Volkswagen Group Vehicle Sales up 7.9% in First-Quarter

Volkswagen's group vehicle sales in the first quarter rose by 7.9% to a record 1.47 million units, thanks in part to sharp gains in China and Brazil, Europe's biggest carmaker said on Tuesday.

"All brands contributed to these excellent results, confirming that the group is in a good position to master forthcoming challenges and that we will meet our sales targets for this year in spite of difficult market conditions," Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn said in a statement.

Volkswagen has forecast a "slight" increase in vehicle sales in 2007 versus last year, when demand for its cars and trucks rose 9.4% to 5.7 million units.

VW stock had risen 1.9% to 114.68 euros, when the DJ Stoxx European car sector index was up 0.3%.

The group's core VW brand saw first-quarter deliveries to customers rise 6.8% to 850,000 vehicles amid a 23% gain in China. VW brand sales in Germany fell nearly 11% amid a sales tax increase at the start of the year.

Sales of its Spanish brand SEAT managed a gain of 1% to 108,000 vehicles as higher demand in its core market of Western Europe compensated for declines in other regions.

Other group brands had recently reported delivery figures for the first quarter.

While Audi sales grew 9.4% to 248,000 vehicles, the group's commercial vehicles division increased its deliveries by 10.6% to 110,000 units, and VW's Czech unit Skoda enjoyed an even stronger 15.5% rise to 150,000 cars, thanks to the roll-out of its new Roomster model.

Volkswagen will hold its annual general meeting in Hamburg on Thursday.