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Volkswagen Group profits soar after cost cuts

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Volkswagen Group profits have soared in the first quarter as cost-cutting measures kick in, the German car giant has said.

Volkswagen Group also sold more models with higher profit margins, a spokesperson said.

Group profit before tax rose 44.3% to 4.6bn euros (£3.9bn), one of the carmaker's highest quarterly results to date.

Meanwhile, the group's troubled flagship brand also saw profits surge.

Volkswagen brand operating profits rose to 869m euros from 73m euros the year before, although accounting changes meant sales revenues declined 24% to 19bn euros.

Investors have said a turnaround at VW's namesake brand, which has had high fixed and research and development costs, is key to turning it into a more appealing business, although VW last year overtook Toyota as the world's biggest selling carmaker.

Group changes

Since the VW diesel emissions scandal broke in 2015, the group has made a number of structural changes.

These include streamlining vehicle development, cutting material costs by reducing complexity in parts, dropping unprofitable models and shifting more power to brands and regions to respond more quickly to market needs.

"Our efforts to improve efficiency and productivity across all areas of the company are also paying off," chief executive Matthias Mueller said.

"The healthy quarterly figures strengthen our resolve to continue our chosen path," he added.

The group saw "solid earnings in Western Europe", he said, and also benefited from favourable exchange rates.

Quarterly profit at luxury division Audi slipped to 1.2bn euros from 1.3bn euros a year earlier as VW's biggest earnings contributor pushes into new models and technologies.

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