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Volkswagen CEO stands by cautious outlook

March 2, 2015

GENEVA (AP) — The CEO of Volkswagen AG is staying with his cautious outlook for this year, saying it’s a “balanced statement” based on growth in the U.S., Europe and China versus trouble spots such as Russia and Brazil.

Martin Winterkorn told The Associated Press that “I think it’s quite a good assessment, as usual we at Volkswagen do not want to lose touch with reality despite all the successes.”

As it announced increased profits for last year Volkswagen last week cautioned that 2015 could be a turbulent year. It predicted increased sales but said there was no guarantee of a successful year for the company or the industry as a whole.

“We very much see the global trouble spots - Russia, Ukraine, and also the weak markets in Brazil - but we also see that markets in Europe are growing again, that markets like the United States and China continue to grow, so to that extent we made a balanced statement,” Winterkorn said.

Russia’s economy appears headed for recession this year after the ruble plunged in value. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has also unsettled business confidence in Eastern Europe.

Winterkorn also said low gas prices are no reason to back off building fuel-efficient and electrically-powered vehicles for the future. He said that would be “thinking short-term” and that VW would press ahead with new technologies.

Winterkorn spoke after the company unveiled a hybrid-powered large four-door coupe Monday at the Geneva International Motor Show.

“The oil price will not remain at its current level and surely will rise again at one poitn, and we cannot link our long-term product policy to an oil price that is sinking for a short time,” Winterkorn said.

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