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VW sales fall sharply in wake of diesel scandal

VW sales fall sharply in wake of diesel scandal
Volkswagen's 2015 Sportwagen TDI is one of the vehicles caught in the company's expanding emissions scandal, which already has affected 11 million VW and Audi diesel cars worldwide. (James Halfacre / Volkswagen)

Volkswagen's U.S. sales dropped sharply in November, mainly because of the company's decision to stop selling its diesel vehicles, which VW has admitted were outfitted with illegal emissions-cheating devices.

Overall sales for the month dropped almost 25%, at a time when many automakers — GM, FCA, Nissan and Honda among them — were reporting solid increases in sales volumes.

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VW sold 23,882 cars during the period, compared with 31,725 over the same period last year.

The drop is almost entirely because of absent diesel sales, according to Kelley Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer.

"Diesel figures in the U.S. were 22 to 25% of their total U.S. sales in any given month," Brauer said. "Now they have 25% fewer cars that they're allowed to sell."

VW has admitted installing "defeat devices" in an estimated 11 million vehicles worldwide. The onboard software allowed the diesel cars to produce exciting power and deliver good fuel economy while appearing to produce far less pollution than they actually were.

The devices were installed in 489,000 four-cylinder 2.0-liter TDI diesel engines and about 80,000 3.0-liter six-cylinder engines. The power plants are used in some VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles.

The company now faces government investigation, public censure and multiple class-action lawsuits, and has set aside almost $8 billion to offset diesel-related losses.

In a statement, VW of America Chief Operating Officer Mark McNabb said, "Volkswagen is working on an approved remedy for the affected TDI vehicles."

It wasn't only diesel sales that fell, though. Total numbers of Jetta units sold dropped almost 30%, and numbers on Passats fell 60%. Sales of Beetles were off nearly 40%, while vehicles in the Golf line showed slight rises. Tiguan sales also were up.

VW's highest-volume nameplates were among the hardest hit, with Jetta compact sedan sales falling 23% and Passat midsize sedan deliveries dropping 60%.

Twitter: @misterfleming

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