09 October, 2018

German carmakers suffer WLTP-related sales decline in September

Audi, Volkswagen and Daimler have announced a drop in sales during September, with both blaming the implementation of WLTP on the situation.

Audi delivered 139,150 cars in September, a decline of 22% on the same month in 2017, a period the company called ‘record breaking’. In a statement, the company says that following above-average sales results in Europe over July and August due to the sell-off of models in stock, increasingly empty stores and the restrictions in the sales portfolio had an adverse effect on deliveries in September.

In Europe Audi expects to see the most fluctuations in deliveries over the coming months due to the changeover to the WLTP test cycle and the challenging launch and run-out scenarios within the Audi model offensive. In September, supply-side factors caused sales in the home continent to fall 55.5% year-on-year to 37,200 units. In Germany, dealers reported a 69.4% drop in sales for the past month.

“We expected challenging months and are responding actively to the situation,” says Bram Schot, temporary Chairman of the Board of Management and Board Member for Sales and Marketing at Audi AG. “Week after week we once again have more engine/transmission variants in our portfolio and the feedback on our new models is very positive.” Despite considerable short-term fluctuations, the company currently still expects that year-end deliveries will be at almost the same level as last year.

Volkswagen comeback

Audi’s issues come on the back of Volkswagen Group’s announcement in August that half of its models were not compliant with WLTP, especially its leading Golf model, which the company said would be available again from the end of September 2018.

The group has now said that best-selling versions of all VW models now conform to the new test procedure, and this would help to relieve a delivery bottleneck that was affecting sales as a result.

The company’s sales suffered in September as a result, with the European market down by 42.6%, while its domestic market dropped 47.1%. Volkswagen says the main reason for this development was the introduction of the new WLTP test procedure, which led many customers in Western European markets to bring forward their purchasing decisions, resulting in extraordinary growth in delivery figures over the summer months and now, as expected, to the severe falls in September, also in the overall market.

Volkswagen Board Member for Sales Jürgen Stackmann: “The year to date has been the most successful ever for Volkswagen. Developments in September were a setback, but we had been expecting this following the records in the summer. October will also be affected by the changeover to the WLTP test procedure. Currently, we have obtained WLTP approval for high-volume variants of all 14 Volkswagen brand models. By the end of the year, the changeover should have been virtually completed. This is why we expect a return to our old strength. From November, we will be ready for the end-of-the-year sprint in Europe.’

Daimler drops

Finally, Daimler has also seen sales drop in Europe and is putting the reason down to WLTP. The company filed sales 9.4% down compared to last year, although globally it still sold more than 200,000 units. Daimler says that its Mercedes-Benz brand certified its entire fleet for WLTP by 1 September, and these are already on their way to dealerships. However, despite strong demand, it was not possible to fulfil orders in September, while delays in certification in some international markets and model changes also affected numbers.

“I am delighted that Mercedes-Benz has maintained the high level of prior-year sales in the first nine months of the year despite the challenges we faced in the third quarter. It is our goal to ensure that our customers can enjoy receiving their new vehicles as soon as possible – and this is exactly what our teams are currently working on intensively,” stated Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Marketing and Sales.