Volkswagen’s CEO warned its shareholders of a “very demanding year,” what with the European debt crisis depressing auto markets and growth in growth markets slowing. What is growing is risks, said Winterkorn at VW’s annual general meeting. Oddly enough, it is Volkswagen’s competitors who should be very worried.
U.S., South America and Russia helped VW increase group sales by 15 percent last year to a record 8.36 million cars. Volkswagen’s first quarter of 2012 broke another record with global sales increasing nearly 10 percent. In Europe, Volkswagen eked out a small gain in March, while competitors like PSA, Renault, GM and Fiat suffered double-digit losses.
Despite the warnings, Winterkorn did not lower expectations. Volkswagen wants to increase 2012 auto sales and revenue beyond 2011 results. Winterkorn restated the company’s goal to match last year’s record operating profit of 11.3 billion euros ($14.8 billion).
The total absorption of Porsche will have to wait some more. Volkswagen would have to pay about 1 billion euros in taxes if it would buy the remaining 50.1 percent of Porsche’s core car business before 2014. Buying Ducati for fun is one thing. Giving the money to the tax man is another.