* 4.8 pct March gain biggest increase since Sept 2013
* VW brand Q1 sales up 3.9 pct
* VW aims to “moderately” increase 2014 group sales (Adds detail on sales regions and background)
BERLIN, April 8 (Reuters) - Volkswagen increased sales at its core passenger car brand VW by 4.8 percent in March, the second-highest growth rate in the past 10 months, as recovering demand in Europe and Chinese growth outweighed declines in the Americas.
Deliveries of VW brand vehicles rose to 557,800 cars from 532,400 a year earlier, extending the first-quarter rise to 3.9 percent or 1.48 million autos, Europe’s largest automotive group said on Tuesday.
A month earlier, sales of the VW namesake brand rose only 1.5 percent. The 4.8 percent March gain is the second-highest increase since the 6.8 percent rise last September.
“The figures were encouraging,” VW sales chief Christian Klingler said. “Deliveries in Europe continued to improve and we saw further expansion in Asia.”
European car sales were up for a sixth straight month in March as a gradual economic recovery in Portugal, Spain and Italy boosted demand for mass-market brands.
VW brand sales, accounting for almost half of 2013 group deliveries, rose 7.8 percent in the first quarter in Western Europe and 14.1 percent in China, offsetting declines in North America and South America of 7.6 percent and 23.5 percent respectively.
VW has a goal to “moderately” increase deliveries in 2014 from last year’s record 9.7 million vehicles, ranging from VW brand city cars to heavy-duty trucks under the MAN SE and Scania nameplates.
The company plans to run additional production shifts at weekends at its main factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, throughout the second quarter to meet demand for VW brand models including the top-selling Golf hatchback and Tiguan compact SUV. (Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Erica Billingham)