• Operating profit up on 19% sales hike
  • 945,000 VW passenger cars sold, Audi up 22%
  • Interest and exchange rate volatility may hold back 2010

The Volkswagen Group has increased sales and market share in the first three months of the financial year as the German company benfitted from the recovery of the gloabl auto market and its own cost-cutting exercises.

Operating profit rose to EUR848m (US$1.12bn) from EUR312m last year, on the back of a 19.4% increase in sales revenue to EUR28.6bn.

Profit after tax rose to EUR473m, from EUR243m in 2009. The group's share of the global passenger car market increased to 11.6% from 11% in the first quarter of last year.

"This successful first quarter confirms our strong competitive position, which we will build on going forward: we intend to continue providing key momentum to ensure the future success of our Group by strategically expanding our model portfolio, technological expertise and global presence", said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the board of management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, today at the presentation of the company's interim report.

"We have profited from the clear growth in the global automotive markets compared with the first quarter of 2009. Our cost and investment discipline also made a significant contribution to our results", added CFO Hans Dieter Pötsch.

At 945,000 vehicles, the Volkswagen passenger cars brand sold 23.5% more units in the first three months.

Unit sales at the Audi brand rose by 21.8% in the first quarter of 2010 to 316,000 passenger cars

The Škoda brand increased its sales by 31.7% in the period from January to March to 142,000 units. The Seat brand profited from the recovery of the Spanish passenger car market and increased its unit sales by 54.9% to 91,000 passenger cars.

Looking ahead a statement from the company said: "The board of management of the Volkswagen Group is confident about future developments in fiscal year 2010. The total volume of the global automotive markets in 2010 is expected to be slightly above the prior-year level. Volkswagen will benefit from this growth and systematically expand its position in the global markets."

It concluded: "Against this background, the Board of Management anticipates that deliveries to customers will be higher than in 2009. The Group's sales revenue and operating profit for 2010 are expected to exceed the prior-year figures despite a shift in volumes between the markets."

However it warned that interest and exchange rate volatility will remain a drag on profit.

Full details of VW's first three months can be found here.