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Volkswagen namesake brand's 2018 deliveries edge up 0.2% amid China slowdown

Volkswagen AG's namesake brand reported Jan. 10 global deliveries of 6.24 million vehicles in 2018, up 0.2% year over year and setting a new delivery record — despite an economic slowdown in China and the introduction of emissions norms in Europe in September 2018.

The company said its global SUV strategy helped offset the headwinds as SUV deliveries surged 38% year over year.

VW board member for sales Jürgen Stackmann said, "2018 was characterized by considerable uncertainty in some regions, especially in the second half of the year."

Stackmann added that the carmaker was able to "offset the adverse effects" by introducing "attractive new products."

VW was able to register a 3.6% year-over-year growth of 1.75 million deliveries in Europe, where sales bore the brunt of the rollout of the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure emissions norms, especially in September and October 2018. In its home market of Germany, VW delivered 541,200 units during the year, up 1.8% from 2017.

The automaker's deliveries in Asia-Pacific fell 1.7% year over year to 3.29 million vehicles in 2018, which VW primarily attributed to "an uncertain economic environment" in China.

COO Ralf Brandstätter forecast 2019 to be another year of "enormous challenges for the brand."

Brandstätter added that notwithstanding volume growth, the company plans to focus more on earnings performance to ensure long-term profitability of the brand. VW's namesake brand on Dec. 6, 2018, said that it plans to hit a target of a 6% operating margin by 2022.

Deliveries of VW-branded electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids grew 13% year over year to about 50,000 units in 2018, mainly on higher sales of the e-Golf EV unit.