Business Development

In fiscal year 2015, the global economy grew at a moderate rate, slightly below that of the previous year. Global demand for vehicles continued to rise. Amid increasingly difficult conditions in some relevant markets, deliveries to Volkswagen Group’s customers were down slightly year-on-year.


The moderate growth rate of the global economy declined to 2.5 (2.7)% in fiscal year 2015. While the economic situation in the industrialized nations improved slightly, the economic performance in many emerging economies declined in the course of the year. Overall, inflation persisted at a low level despite the expansionary monetary policies of many central banks. Although the comparatively low energy and commodity prices weighed on the economies of individual exporting countries that depend on them, their effect on the global economy as a whole was supportive.

Europe/Other markets

In Western Europe, economic recovery continued: gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 1.6 (1.3)% year-on-year in 2015. Most Northern European countries saw solid economic growth. In most Southern European countries, the economic situation stabilized amid increasing rates of expansion. The eurozone’s unemployment rate fell to 11.5 (12.1)%, although it remained significantly above the average in Greece and Spain.

In Central and Eastern Europe, GDP growth decreased by an average of 0.7 (+1.8)% in the reporting period. While Central Europe proceeded on a positive growth path, Eastern Europe experienced a recessionary trend. In addition to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the resulting uncertainties, falling energy prices had a negative impact on the region overall. In Russia, economic output dropped significantly, by 3.9 (+0.6)%, in the reporting period.

South Africa’s GDP expanded by 1.4 (1.5)%, thus falling somewhat short of the relatively low figure for the previous year. The country’s economic performance continued to be negatively impacted by structural deficits and social conflicts.


The German economy benefited from positive consumer sentiment and the stable labor market in 2015. Despite the weak euro, exports failed to boost growth in any significant way. GDP expanded by 1.5 (1.6)%, somewhat weaker than in the previous year.

North America

Following a robust first half of 2015, economic growth in the US lost some of its momentum as the year progressed. The economy was supported primarily by private consumer demand and expansionary monetary policies. The unemployment rate continued the positive trend of the previous year, falling to 5.0 (5.6)% by the end of the year. The US dollar remained strong, putting goods exports under pressure. Overall, as in the previous year, the US economy expanded by 2.4%. Canada’s GDP growth slowed significantly to a mere 1.2 (2.5)%. The Mexican economy’s rate of growth was almost unchanged at 2.4 (2.3)%.

South America

After generating only negligible growth in the previous year, Brazil entered a recession in the reporting period. Both the country’s weak domestic demand and low global commodity prices had a negative impact on performance. Economic output declined by 3.7 (+0.1)%. Although Argentina’s GDP stabilized, growing by 1.6 (0.5)%, structural deficits and persistently high inflation continued to weigh on the economy.


The Chinese economy expanded by 6.9 (7.3)% in 2015. Although losing momentum, primarily due to structural changes, it remained at a high level compared with the rest of the world. The Indian economy continued its positive trend with a gain of 7.2 (7.3)% and thereby grew as strongly as in the previous year. Growth in Japan’s GDP was relatively weak at 0.7 (−0.1)% due to weak domestic and international demand. At 4.3 (4.4)%, growth in the ASEAN region remained at the prior-year level.

Percentage change in GDP
Index based on month-end prices: December 31, 2014 = 100