Sales of Volkswagen passenger cars were up 5.3% year on year in the first four months of the year to 1.91m, the automaker said.

Asia-Pacific led the way with growth of 17.9% offsetting falls in Europe and the Americas.

April sales grew 5.4% to 480,900 – growth which the company said was helped because of Easter falling in March which meant two extra working days in April.

But sales and marketing chief Christian Klingler warned Europe remained “very challenging. Volkswagen Passenger Cars is not immune to this trend.”

Klingler added, “The signals from China, where Volkswagen has been successfully selling vehicles for the last 30 years, continue positive.”

Sales for the first four months in Europe were down 7.5% to 545,300 units; in Germany sales fell 10.9% to 180,500 units.

In Asia-Pacific, VW brand sales grew 17.9% to 855,100 while, in the US, they were down 0.1% at 131,800 and South American sales fell 4.5% to 235,200 units.