The Volkswagen Group has confirmed its full year financial targets despite the on-going difficulties many of its rivals are experiencing in the current economic climate.

The German vehicle manufacturer said today that it was set to benefit in the current environment from its high cost and investment discipline, as well as its solid liquidity position and conservative refinancing policy.

Announcing an increase in sales and profits for its first nine months, CFO Hans Dieter Pötsch said: "We are confirming our forecast for 2008, despite the dramatic deterioration in global economic conditions and the automotive industry environment in recent months."

The company said that in the first nine months it had achieved a 15% rise in operating profits to EUR4.9bn, with profits after tax reaching EUR3.7bn, a rise of 28.5% over the same period last year.

"Volkswagen has performed well so far in a difficult environment. With its young and environmentally friendly model range, flexible production, solid finances and an outstanding team, the group's foundations are sound", said chairman Martin Winterkorn.

Sales revenue climbed by 5.5% to EUR85.4bn in the period from January to September. The Volkswagen Group increased deliveries to 4.8m vehicles, beating the previous year's figure by 3.9%. Its share of the passenger car market worldwide rose to 10.1% (9.6%).

The Volkswagen passenger cars brand increased its operating profit 37% to EUR1.9b. Volume increases and product cost optimisation measures more than offset the impact of the unfavourable exchange rates, the company said.

Equally, improvements in unit sales and product costs at Audi led to a rise in operating profit to EUR2.1bn from EUR1.8bn last year. The figures for the Lamborghini brand contained in this also recorded positive growth, VW said.

Škoda generated an operating profit of EUR455m however, a fall from the EUR526m achieved last year. The negative exchange rate situation for the Czech koruna again impacted earnings.

Driven by higher unit sales of 10.5% and productivity increases and cost optimisation, Volkswagen commercial vehicles almost doubled operating profit to EUR283m.

SEAT recorded an operating loss of EUR30m.

"The critical situation in the Spanish passenger car market in particular made itself felt here," the company said.

The Bentley brand generated an operating profit of EUR82m, down from EUR107m last year.