November 29, 2017 / 1:37 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-VW CEO sees "strong" Nov/Dec sales, new record in 2017

* FY 2017 group sales may beat 10.3 mln 2016 record -CEO

* But CEO criticizes slow-moving culture change

* Still divisions with unions over reforms -brand chief (Adds CEO comments on culture change, brand chief on reforms)

BERLIN, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Volkswagen is headed for record group sales this year as the “strong trend” in deliveries is set to continue with November and December figures, chief executive Matthias Mueller said.

Registrations at the world’s largest automotive group including the Audi and Porsche nameplates jumped 8.2 percent in October to 940,800 cars, extending the 10-month gain to 3.2 percent or 8.75 million.

“All brands have most recently developed strongly,” Mueller said on Wednesday at a staff gathering in Wolfsburg. “And I trust that also the two remaining months will confirm the strong trend. And that we will be able to finish the year 2017 on a new record.”

In 2016, the first full year after VW’s emissions test-cheating “Dieselgate” scandal, group sales increased 3.8 percent to a record 10.3 million cars, helped by a double-digit increase in China and gains in Europe.

But Mueller criticized that a post-Dieselgate drive to improve accountability and become more transparent was making slow progress.

“On the issue of culture change, progress is in part still dragging,” the CEO said, without being more specific. “In many places we are still too slow, too bureaucratic and too hierarchical.”

VW brand chief Herbert Diess, who has repeatedly clashed with the carmaker’s top labour representatives over cost cuts, told Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper that differences with the unions persist even a year after a hard-fought turnaround plan was agreed.

“We are in part divided on how quickly the whole thing (reforms) should happen,” Diess was quoted by Handelsblatt as saying. (Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Maria Sheahan)

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