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Volkswagen Group deliveries lowest in over a decade

By Victoria Waldersee

BERLIN (Reuters) -The Volkswagen Group reported its lowest sales in over a decade in 2022 as COVID-19 lockdowns in China and the war in Ukraine upended supply chains, and a fourth-quarter recovery risks running into further challenges this year.

The German group, whose brands range from mass-market VWs and Skodas to premium Audis and Bentleys, said on Thursday it delivered 8.3 million vehicles to customers last year.

That indicates it will remain in second place globally for the third year in a row behind Japan's Toyota Group, which by November had already produced over 9.5 million cars.

Group sales rose 14.3% in the fourth quarter, but the outlook for 2023 remains clouded by weak economies and supply chain shortages, extended executive sales committee member Hildegard Wortmann said.

Audi, Lamborghini and Bentley weathered 2022 better than Volkswagen Passenger Cars and Skoda, with deliveries down around 4% at the premium brands and down 9% for mass-market vehicles.

Group deliveries fell 7% versus 2021.

High-end carmakers BMW and Mercedes-Benz earlier this week also reported a smaller decline in sales than some mass-market rivals, with falls of 4.8% and 1% respectively.

Both BMW and Mercedes-Benz sales also picked up in the fourth quarter as supply chains improved and China relaxed its COVID-19 policies, though some companies have warned rising cases in the country among staff could still stymie output.

The Volkswagen Group's deliveries were up 12% in the second half of the year, but the full-year figure was dragged down by a drop of over a fifth in the first half.

Still, it maintained its position as Europe's top battery-electric vehicle maker and saw a 26% rise in all-electric sales globally, boosted by an increase of almost two-thirds in China.

The group is aiming for all-electric sales in 2023 to be 11% of the total, a stepping stone to its 2030 target of making half of all sales fully electric.

(Reporting by Victoria WalderseeEditing by Rachel More and Mark Potter)