Emissions scandal dents Volkswagen's U.S. sales

FRANKFURT, Germany - Volkswagen vehicle sales in the U.S. fell 7 percent in January after the automaker had to halt sales of several models due to a scandal over cars that were equipped to cheat on emissions tests.

Volkswagen's global sales rose 3.7 percent in January, held back by sagging economies in Brazil and Russia.

The company said Friday it sold 847,000 vehicles worldwide, up from 817,000 in the same month a year earlier. The Wolfsburg, Germany-based automaker saw strong gains in China, where sales rose 14 percent, and more moderate increases in Western Europe. Sales plunged in Russia and Brazil, where the economies are struggling.

The figures are for all the company's brands, including Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, Skoda and Bentley.

The Wolfsburg, Germany-based automaker has admitted equipping cars with software that let them skirt pollution controls in the U.S.. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is suing the company in federal court over what it says were 600,000 such vehicles.

Volkswagen says as many as 11 million cars worldwide have the software that enables them to cheat on tests. The company says it is working to fix the cars and to change its culture so that something similar does not happen again. U.S. law firm Jones Day is conducting an investigation into who made the decisions to cheat.

California air quality regulators in January rejected Volkswagen's plan to fix vehicles including the Beetle and Jetta that were programmed to trick government emissions tests. The California Air Resources Board said the plan did not meet its standards and called it "unacceptable."