The poor results could, however, help the company in its determination to cut costs in the face of strong labour opposition. The firm began a fifth round of talks with unions about pay and labour costs today. VW wants to achieve a 30% reduction in labour costs by 2011 and has warned that 30,000 jobs may be at risk.
VW said in a statement that its bottom-line net profit fell 43.6 %to €459 million (£319.6 million) in the period from January to September.
Operating profit in the nine-month period also tumbled, falling 20.7% to €1.46 billion (£1.01 billion).
However, nine-month sales were up 5.1% at €67.396 billion (£46.9 billion) and deliveries to customers edged up 1% to 3.747 milion vehicles.
"Economic conditions have proved to be difficult so far in 2004," VW says.
"This is particularly due to persistently high oil prices and the ongoing adverse exchange rate situation for an automobile manufacturer generating a high proportion of its value added in Europe."