It took awhile to add up all those billions of dollars and millions of sales, but the wait was worth it: Volkswagen released its full 2011 financial results recently and announced new records for sales volume, sales revenue and earnings, while also targeting continued increases in volume and revenue for this year.
The bottom line here is that the VW Group’s overall sales—including those from subsidiaries like Audi and Bentley—rose by 14.7 percent to reach 8.3 million units; sales revenue improved by 25.6 percent, topping $208 billion; and before-tax profits more than doubled to almost $24.7 billion. The results left VW in second-place on the international best-seller list, trailing only General Motors, which grew sales by 7.6 percent on a little more than 9 million deliveries. As a further comparison, the General increased its revenue last year to $150.3 billion, representing a 10.8 percent jump, and its earnings before interest and taxes moved ahead by 18.6 percent to $8.3 billion.
The volume situation here in the U.S. was bit different, as GM sold more than 2.5 million vehicles in this country last year, with VW only selling 324,402 units, but in terms of growth, it’s all been going VW’s way. Last year, GM pulled off a 13.7 percent improvement in sales, but that was trumped by the 23.3 percent increase achieved by VW plus Audi. This year has seen the disparity between the two companies’ performances grow yet further. General Motors opened the year by shedding 6.6 percent of its sales total from January 2011, then followed that up with a meager 1.1 percent sales bump in February. VW/Audi, on the other hand, combined for a 39.5 percent sales leap in January and a 33.9 percent increase last month.
These early 2012 results mean a lot on the global automotive landscape, too, since GM currently relies on this country for the vast majority of its profits and a strong plurality of its sales, while VW is pinning much of its hopes for further international growth on how it performs in the U.S. marketplace. Which, as of late, has been very well.
The Americanization of the Volkswagen Jetta compact and VW Passat mid-sizer—despite being panned by many critics—has clearly energized the automaker’s U.S. sales. Last year was the automaker’s best in the U.S. in nearly a decade, and it closed out 2011 with its strongest December sales since 1972. The primary driver of this success was the new Jetta, scoring a 54.5 percent volume improvement on sales of 150,515 units. And although that car has cooled off in terms of actual growth in 2012, it’s still seeing strong volume, with about 12,000 sales in both January and February.
More importantly, now that supplies of the Passat are fully ramped up, it’s experiencing the same kind of huge growth as the redesigned Jetta did in its first year on the market. Actually, because the Passat sold so poorly in the U.S. in the recent past, it’s showcasing truly crazy numbers in 2012: VW has sold 14,507 Passats through the first two months of this year, versus 132 in the same period in 2011, and that works out to a 10,890.2 percent increase. The new VW Beetle also is seeing the same kind of growth. Compared to the old New Beetle, the redesigned model has benefited from a 1,590 percent increase in volume in combined January and February sales—albeit on just 2,704 deliveries.
Even models like the VW Golf and Volkswagen Tiguan—products that haven’t gotten nearly the amount of marketing support as the new Jetta or Passat—are solidly in the black so far in 2012. Sales of the former (including the VW GTI) have risen by 20.7 percent and the latter has grown sales by 23.6 percent.
Now, the absolute volumes involved are fairly small compared to most GM products: The Golf and Tiguan together sold about 10,000 units in the first two months of the year, while the Chevy Cruze, for example, more than doubled that in February alone. But every sale counts in the race for global automotive success, and guess what? According to Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the Board of Management for the Volkswagen Group: “We are making steady progress on our way to pole position in the automotive industry … [and] remain on track on our way to the top of the automotive industry.”