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VW to defend global sales crown despite 17b euro diesel hit

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[FRANKFURT] Volkswagen's global deliveries rose to a fresh record last year as robust customer demand largely countered the dramatic financial fallout from the German manufacturer's diesel-emissions crisis and most likely kept the German manufacturer ahead of Japanese rival Toyota Motor.

Worldwide sales of the group's cars, trucks and buses jumped 4.3 per cent to 10.7 million vehicles in 2017, VW said Wednesday in an emailed statement.

"We are grateful to our customers for their trust," chief executive officer Matthias Mueller said in the statement.

"We will continue to do everything we can in 2018 to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers all over the world," he said.

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Toyota has forecast about 10.4 million vehicles sales for 2017 and is scheduled to release the final number later this month.

A strong presence in China and a slew of new sport-utility vehicles like the VW Tiguan and the Skoda Kodiaq helped cushion an unprecedented cash outflow of about 17 billion euros (S$27.54 billion) last year that was triggered by the September 2015 revelation of diesel-engine emissions-control rigging.

The undiminished popularity of its vehicles is vital to generating the funds Volkswagen needs to emerge from the crisis while it also makes hefty investments in new technologies such as electric and self-driving cars.

The Wolfsburg-based company, which comprises a stable of 12 automotive brands including the Porsche sports car marque, Scania heavy-duty trucks and Ducati motorbikes, will seek to sustain sales momentum this year with models including an updated version of the VW Touareg SUV, the new Virtus in South America and add a large SUV to the lineup of its Spanish Seat nameplate. The Audi division, VW's largest earnings contributor will roll out its first all-electric model dubbed E-tron and the new Q8 flagship SUV.

"We are making decisive investments in the mobility of tomorrow, using funds from our own resources: in electric mobility, autonomous driving, new mobility services and digitalization," Mr Mueller said.

"At the same time, we continue to systematically develop present technologies and vehicles. The excellent delivery figures confirm that this is the right approach."

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