Europe's biggest carmaker Volkswagen hit the skids at the start of 2009, results showed on Wednesday, with "extremely weak" conditions sending first quarter sales down sharply and slashing profits.
The German firm said sales fell 11.2 percent year-on-year in the first three months of the year to 24 billion euros (31.1 billion dollars) and that net profit was down 74 percent at 243 million euros.
VW said it did not expect business to be jump-started soon, with both revenues and profits likely below-trend for the year as a whole. "The high volatility of market developments does not permit any reliable forecasts to be made based on the extremely weak business in the first three months of 2009, we continue to expect that our earnings will not reach the level of previous years," VW said.
The number of vehicles sold dived 15.7 per cent to 1.35 million while production slumped by almost a quarter 24.1 per cent to 1.25 million. Deliveries to customers fell 10.7 percent to 1.40 million vehicles.
Operating profit fell 76.2 percent to 312 milion euros while pretax income was off 96.2 per cent at 52 million euros, it said.