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[BERLIN] Embattled German auto giant Volkswagen Friday posted its first drop in sales in over a decade, as it struggled to recover from a massive pollution cheating scandal.
Sales of vehicles bearing the Volkswagen badge fell 5 per cent to 5.82 million, the company said, marking the first such decline in 11 years.
Overall VW group sales, which also include brands like Audi, Porsche and Skoda, reached 9.93 million, 2 per cent less than a year ago and the first fall since 2002.
"Almost 10 million vehicles sold - that's an excellent result given a difficult situation in certain regions and for diesel in the last quarter," said chief executive Matthias Mueller.
He acknowledged that challenges await in 2016, and said the company needed to be "more efficient for a successful future." Volkswagen sank into its biggest crisis over its stunning revelations in September that it had fitted 11 million of its vehicles with devices designed to cheat pollution tests.
Earlier this week, the US government said it was sueing VW for US$20 billion in civil penalties.
Mr Mueller is travelling to the United States where he will attend a media reception in Detroit on Sunday.
He has vowed to press on with the company's diesel marketing offensive in the US despite the government lawsuit.
On Friday, VW shares closed 0.09 per cent higher at 115.10 euros, defying an overall weak market, with the DAX closing 1.31 per cent down.