Nobody wants a reputational crisis. Having your name dragged through the mud isn't generally conducive to business success. But it seems being pilloried in the press doesn't always lead to a drastic reduction in sales – at least not immediately.
Despite the revelation that it has been fiddling its diesel emissions testing, figures published today show that Volkswagen Group's EU sales were actually up year-on-year in September by a not insignificant 8.4%. That contrasts sharply with the almost 25% that its share price has dropped by in the past month.
The crisis did only emerge on September 18th, but any serious dent in revenues in the following couple of weeks would surely have been detectable in the figures. VW's growth is only slightly behind the 9.8% expansion of the new car market as a whole, despite the fact it has the largest market share.
It probably helps that the group has plenty of brands besides Volkswagen. It's not hard to imagine that a large proportion of consumers don't realise that Porsche, sales of which were up by 54.1%, is actually part of VW. Sales of its Skoda and Audi cars were up by 10.2% and 10.1% respectively – despite the fact that they are also implicated in the scandal.
But even sales of its core brand Volkswagen cars were up by 6.6% as 152,130 Europeans plumped for 'Das Auto' in September. The American market could well be dramatically different of course, as it was our transatlantic cousins that first unearthed the emissions cheating, and who generally have a distaste for diesel.
We will have to wait until this month's figures are released to get a fair picture of whether the scandal has dampened sales, but so far things don't look quite as bad as they could do. Do your worst, Leonardo DiCaprio.