Volkswagen Group sales worldwide fell 4.3% year on year to 998,900 vehicles in March as rises in Europe and North America were offset by falls in Asia-Pacific and South America.

Europe volume creaked up 0.6% while North America rose 3.7% as Asia-Pacific sales were off 9.9% and South America by 10.2%.

Group sales chief Christian Dahlheim said: "As was the case in the first two months of the year, the group again performed better than the global market in March and won further market shares.

"We ended what was, as expected, a challenging first quarter with deliveries exceeding 2.6m vehicles and high order backlogs, and are somewhat more optimistic, particularly as regards the second half of the year."

Europe sales reached 483,100 units with central and Eastern Europe volume of 69,900 down 3.6% as western deliveries grew 1.4% to 413,200.

German sales rose 2.4% to 133,100.

The North America tally was 87,000 with US volume up 8.2% to 62,500  but off 7.8% to 15,100 in Mexico, "where the overall economic situation remained difficult".

South American sales fell 10.2% to 45,500 though Brazil, the region's largest market, saw growth of 3.9% to 33,700. Argentina remained "difficult" with a 49% slump to 6,400 yet market share grew.

Asia-Pacific region was down 9.9% to 352,700 units with China sales off 9.4% to 324,900 but a small market share rise. 

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