Volkswagen AG (VOW), Europe’s largest carmaker, sees the pace of U.S. auto industry sales accelerating in May from April, according to the chief executive officer of its operations in the country.
“We continue to believe in a moderate pace of recovery in the economy and with the car market, and certainly May has got a better pace than April had,” Jonathan Browning, CEO of VW’s U.S. unit, said today in a telephone interview.
U.S. auto sales are on pace for the best showing since 2007 as more confident buyers return to showrooms. Total light- vehicle sales in April gained 2.3 percent to 1.18 million, according to researcher Autodata Corp. The industry’s seasonally adjusted annual rate, or SAAR, was 14.4 million for the second consecutive month.
“When we speak to dealers around the country, the feedback is good activity in the market, good showroom traffic and our sales are pretty much at the pace that we would expect,” Browning said. “The market is on pace with our expectations.”
The VW group, including the Audi premium brand, is targeting U.S. sales of more than 500,000 vehicles this year, an increase of at least 12 percent from 2011. The company is counting on growth in the U.S. to pass Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) and General Motors Co. (GM:US) in becoming the world’s biggest automaker by 2018. VW-owned U.S. brands also include Bentley and Lamborghini.
Toyota, the global leader from 2008 to 2010, sold the most cars and trucks in the world in the first three months of the year, with 2.49 million deliveries of Toyota, Lexus, Scion, Hino and Daihatsu models. That put Toyota ahead of GM’s 2.28 million and VW’s 2.16 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
U.S. sales for the VW group climbed 32 percent to 173,702 cars and light trucks through April, according to Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey-based Autodata. The VW brand’s U.S. deliveries totaled 37,525 last month, its best April since 1971, the Herndon, Virginia-based unit said in a May 1 statement.
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