VW lowers 2019 sales outlook as demand cools

Only last week Volkswagen executives were proudly showing off a new version of the firm's iconic Golf hatchback:

(SOUNDBITE) (English) VOLKSWAGEN CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER (COO), RALF BRANDSTAETTER, SAYING:

"Never the Golf looked so sporty, so cool."

Now the German giant admits selling enough of them and its other cars could prove a challenge.

VW on Wednesday (October 30) cut its sales outlook for the year.

It now says they'll be the same as 2018, contrary to earlier forecasts of a rise.

Even so, operating profits for the group are on the up.

They jumped 37% in the third quarter to just over 4.8 billion euros - about 5.3 billion dollars.

The firm was helped by strong demand for higher-margin SUVs.

Group brands Porsche and Skoda also saw a big rise in sales.

But the broader outlook remains tough.

VW says global vehicle demand will contract faster than expected in many markets.

Its more gloomy outlook follows a similar warning from Ford earlier in the week.

The U.S. firm cut its operating profit forecast, citing slower demand in China as among the headwinds.