Volkswagen says 2009 will be one of its toughest years ever.
Europe’s largest carmaker is anticipating lower sales, revenue and earnings but is still forecasting a profit for the full year. At the annual news conference Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn called 2008 a good and very successful year for VW and confidently predicted the car market will pick up again, after the economic crisis. He said: “We kept our word in 2008. In terms of sales, turnover and profit, we achieved record results. Despite the path being slippery we didn’t fall and we stayed on course. And now, we’re focusing on what happens after the economic crisis.” VW’s sales rose to 6.3 million vehicles last year, up from 6.2 million in 2007. But sales in the first two months of this year where much weaker at just over 809,000 – 15 percent down on the same period last year. Sales fell in Europe, the United States and Japan but rose in Germany where the government is paying a bonus to owners who trade in their old cars. VW’s Finance chief Hans Dieter Poetsch said no one could predict when the crisis would end, but management is already positioning the company for the recovery. He said: “We do not yet appear to have reached the bottom.”