Volkswagen brand March sales fell 7.2% to 542,700 vehicles worldwide in March as a 14% rise in the US could not offset falls of 10% in Asia, 3.5% in Europe and 12.7% in South America.

First quarter sales fell 4.5% to 1,456,400 vehicles but the brand recorded a slight gain in market share.

Sales chief Juergen Stackmann said: "As expected, the continued reluctance to buy on the part of customers in China impacted our deliveries in the first quarter. Nevertheless, strong expansion of our market share there continues. Our order books everywhere are well-filled and we are working hard on expanding our capacity for petrol engines so that we can promptly deliver vehicles ordered by our customers. The new T-Cross will debut in dealer showrooms in Europe during the coming weeks, that will give us a tailwind."

Europe March sales fell 3.5% to 183,200 vehicles due partly attributable to capacity restrictions for petrol engines for which demand is currently high. Sales fell 2.4% to 160,600 vehicles in western Europe and the brand said it grew market shares in France, Italy and the UK. 

German sales fell 3.2% to 52,700 vehicles as SUV share increased from 18.1% in March 2018 to 28.4%.

Central and eastern Europe volume fell 10.8% to 22,600 while Russia deliveries were off 1.2% at 8,500 units. 

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By GlobalData

North America region volume was up 6.4% to 53,700 as US sales rose 14% to 37,100 with Tiguan and Atlas SUVs accounting for over half of the deliveries in March. Mexico remained "difficult" as deliveries fell 12.7%. 

South America saw a sharp fall of 12.7% to 35,800 vehicles with Brazil off 1.9% to 27,200 vehicles.

The poor economic conditions in Argentina saw sales plunge 49.2% to 5,000 units. 

Asia-Pacific region sales declined 10% to 258,100 vehicles. The "continued reluctance to buy on the part of customers in China" combined with a VAT cut scheduled for April depressed sales 9.9% to 242,900 though market share increased. SUVs' share rose from 13.2% to 20.5% in March.