In race for pole position, Volkswagen says vehicle sales up 4.3% in 2017

Volkswagen sold 10.7 million vehicles in 2017, 4.3 percent higher than the previous year, helped by strong gains in China, Europe and South America. (Reuters)
Updated 17 January 2018
0

In race for pole position, Volkswagen says vehicle sales up 4.3% in 2017

FRANKFURT: Volkswagen (VW) reported a 4.3 percent rise in 2017 sales to 10.7 million vehicles, staying ahead of Toyota in the race to keep the title of world’s biggest carmaker although Renault-Nissan has forecast it would go top.
Last year’s sales by the German firm, which is still dealing with fallout from a scandal over rigged diesel emissions tests, were its highest ever, helped by strong gains in China, Europe and South America. Monthly sales in December rose 8.5 percent.
Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. said last month it expected 2017 sales to grow 2 percent to 10.35 million units worldwide across its Toyota, Lexus, Daihatsu and Hino brands. It said it would hit 10.50 million vehicles in 2018.
The Renault-Nissan alliance, which includes Mitsubishi Motors Corp, has yet to release combined sales volume figures but Renault boss Carlos Ghosn said in July it was headed for the top spot.
In 2016, VW was No. 1 with 10.3 million vehicle sales, Toyota was second with 10.2 million and Renault-Nissan was third with 9.96 million.
VW said December 2017 China sales jumped 17.8 percent to 460,100 vehicles, while monthly sales in Europe rose 3.1 percent, driven by Germany. US sales were down 5.2 percent.
Overall, carmakers saw European sales fall 4.8 percent in December from the same month a year ago due in part to one less working day, industry data showed on Wednesday.
VW has set aside about €25 billion to cover fines, lawsuits and vehicle repairs related to the diesel scandal.


Merkel seeks united front with China amid Trump trade fears

Updated 22 May 2018
0

Merkel seeks united front with China amid Trump trade fears

  • Merkel seeks common ground to ward off trade war
  • Plans complicated by US policy moves

Chancellor Angela Merkel visits China on Thursday, seeking to close ranks with the world’s biggest exporting nation as US President Donald Trump shakes up explosive issues from trade to Iran’s nuclear deal.

Finding a common strategy to ward off a trade war and keep markets open will be Merkel’s priority when she meets with President Xi Jinping, as Washington brandishes the threat of imposing punitive tariffs on aluminum and steel imports.

“Both countries are in agreement that open markets and rules-based world trade are necessary. That’s the main focus of this trip,” Merkel’s spokeswoman Martina Fietz said in Berlin on Friday.

But closing ranks with Beijing against Washington risks being complicated by Saturday’s deal between China and the US to hold off tit-for-tat trade measures.

China’s economic health can only benefit Germany as the Asian giant is a big buyer of Made in Germany. But a deal between the US and China effectively leaves Berlin as the main target of Trump’s campaign against foreign imports that he claims harm US national security.

The US leader had already singled Germany out for criticism, saying it had “taken advantage” of the US by spending less than Washington on NATO.

Underlining what is at stake, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire warned the US-China deal may come “at the expense of Europe if Europe is not capable of showing a firm hand.”

Nevertheless, Merkel can look to her carefully nurtured relationship with China over her 12 years as chancellor.

No Western leader has visited Beijing as often as Merkel, who will be undertaking her eleventh trip to the country.

In China, she is viewed not only as the main point of contact for Europe, but, crucially, also as a reliable interlocutor — an antithesis of the mercurial Trump.

Devoting her weekly podcast to her visit, Merkel stressed that Beijing and Berlin “are both committed to the rules of the WTO” (World Trade Organization) and want to “strengthen multilateralism.”

But she also underlined that she will press home Germany’s longstanding quest for reciprocity in market access as well as the respect of intellectual property.

Ahead of her visit, Beijing fired off a rare salvo of criticism.

China’s envoy to Germany, Shi Mingde, pointed to a “protectionist trend in Germany,” as he complained about toughened rules protecting German companies from foreign takeovers.

Only 0.3 percent of foreign investors in Germany stem from China while German firms have put in €80 billion in the Asian giant over the last three decades, he told Stuttgarter Nachrichten.

“Economic exchange cannot work as a one-way street,” he warned.

Meanwhile, looming over the battle on the trade front is another equally thorny issue — the historic Iran nuclear deal, which risks falling apart after Trump pulled the US out.

Tehran has demanded that Europe keeps the deal going by continuing economic cooperation, but the US has warned European firms of sanctions if they fail to pull out of Iran.

Merkel “hopes that China can help save the atomic deal that the US has unilaterally ditched,” said Die Welt daily.

“Because only the giant emerging economy can buy enough raw materials from Iran to give the Mullah regime an incentive to at least officially continue to not build a nuclear weapon.”