Volkswagen sales hit record high in 2012

New VW cars on a rail transporter VW saw strong sales growth in Asia and North America

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Volkswagen says its group sales hit a record high last year despite slowing sales in Western Europe.

The German carmaker sold 9.07 million cars last year, up 11% from 2011.

Sales in North America and Asia-Pacific rose 26.2% and 23.3% respectively, helping to offset a 6.5% drop in sales in Western Europe, excluding Germany where sales were up 1.9%.

Volkswagen said it was optimistic for this year despite the economic problems in the eurozone.

"Tough challenges lie ahead. The Volkswagen Group has everything it takes to face these challenges and to play a leading role on world markets," said Volkswagen chairman Dr Martin Winterkorn.

However, sales at Volkswagen are still expected to lag those at rival Toyota, which has forecast a 22% jump in sales last year to 9.7 million vehicles.

Toyota has not yet released its official global sales figures for 2012.

At Volkswagen, its passenger cars remained the most popular, recording sales of 5.7 million last year.

Sales of sports car Porsche, which Volkswagen took over last August, were 59,500 between August and December.

The economic turmoil in the eurozone, which has seen several countries including Greece, Portugal and the Republic of Ireland need international financial help, has hurt car sales in the region.

Last week, Peugeot Citroen reported worldwide sales down 16.5% for 2012, which it blamed on "the crisis affecting the European automobile market".

Meanwhile, Honda revealed plans to cut 800 jobs at its Swindon plant which it also blamed on weak demand in European markets.

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