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Volkswagen Group posted its lowest sales figures in 10 years in 2021 at 8.9 million deliveries, the car maker said on Wednesday, and it said it expected supply chain conditions to remain volatile in the first half of this year.

By contrast, luxury car maker BMW saw record deliveries of 2.21 million vehicles from the BMW brand, a success attributed in part to its ability to adapt to supply chain shortages.

The Volkswagen brand saw an 8.1 per cent drop in sales to just under 4.9 million units, with the biggest fall in China at 14.8 per cent, although battery-electric vehicle sales in the country quadrupled.

“Under unusually challenging circumstances, Volkswagen reached a satisfying sales result,” sales and marketing chief Klaus Zellmer said. “However, the huge effects of chips on production were not able to be fully compensated.”

BMW rival Daimler reported last Friday that Mercedes-Benz sales dropped 5 per cent in 2021, losing its crown to BMW for the first time in five years as the premium car maker with most vehicles sold worldwide.

Performance for the premium car makers was weakest in Europe, with the BMW and Mini brands registering just 3.9 per cent growth and Mercedes-Benz an 11.2 per cent drop.

North America was a strong market for all three car makers. Mercedes-Benz registered 0.4 per cent growth in the United States and BMW 19.5 per cent. Volkswagen saw 13 per cent growth in the region.

Sales of hybrid or fully-electric vehicles rose across the industry, particularly in Europe, where they constituted between a fifth and a quarter of deliveries – but remained a small proportion of total global sales.

At the Volkswagen Group, for example, battery-electric vehicles constituted 5.1 per cent of deliveries – double last year’s figure, but a fraction of the carmaker’s 2030 target of 50 per cent.

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