I’d hate to beat a dead horse by saying that 2021 was, frankly, awful for the automotive industry thanks to a whole host of factors — the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, microchip shortages, supply chain disruptions — but the Volkswagen Group seems to have found the perfect response to the problem. Despite selling 2.3 million fewer cars in 2021 compared to 2019, the German brand still managed to turn a profit.
Carscoops did the math to figure out just what a disparity there was between the 6.3 percent drop in sales compared to 2020 and the multi-billion dollar increase in sales:
The multi-brand automaker whose stable includes VW, Audi, Skoda, and Seat sold 8.6 million vehicles in 2021. That was a 6.3 percent drop versus 2020, which was badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was down 2.3 million on output achieved in 2019, that last year before the virus hit. To give that figure some kind of context, BMW’s entire production run for 2021 totaled 2.21 million units (2.5 million across the BMW Group).
The silver lining to Wolfsburg’s cloud is that sales revenue actually climbed to €250.9 billion ($275.6 bn), while operating profit jumped to €19.3 billion ($21.2 bn), pushing overall earnings before tax up almost 73 percent to €20.1bn ($22.1 bn).
Those aren’t bad numbers considering, y’know, [gestures broadly at everything]— and it kind of seems like VW managed to work some fancy black magic to get their numbers up.
The big difference here, though, is twofold: VW started selling more electric cars, and it also raised prices on the other vehicles it was selling. EVs require more specialized technology than the traditional combustion engine, so automakers tend to price those vehicles higher than their combustion counterparts. And with a shortage of available vehicles, automakers could also get away with raising prices on any vehicle to compensate for the loss of revenue. Not bad.