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Volkswagen AG announced Tuesday that sales of its VW brand cars in the U.S. rose 15 percent in June, its best sales month since August 2006. The increase can be attributed to “strong market acceptance of the entry level Rabbit and a 44.9% surge in deliveries of the sporty GTI,” the company said in its statement.

So too are online auction sales of VW parts and accessories up, growing 0.8% in June from May totals. Between May 31-June 29, VW enthusiasts spent $1,557,542 on parts and accessories via online auction, according to data from Terapeak, a developer of market-focused research software that monitors online sales and auctions.

That number is up over May’s total sales of $1,545,508, although down from April’s high of $1,681,035. Since Jan. 1, VW parts and accessories online auction sales have averaged $1,551,893 a month.

VW credits its sales performance with a “’return to its roots’ affordability,” including “significant increases in Jetta and Rabbit volume car lines.” The Jetta indeed led all VW models in online auction parts and accessories sales, with 4,371 items sold in June. The Golf fell in just behind with 4,206 items sold, followed much farther down the list by the Passat (1,684 items sold).

The Rabbit and GTI, interestingly, factored little in the overall sales picture, the Rabbit – perhaps due to its recent arrival – accounting for only 711 items sold, the GTI, 287.

The most popular parts and accessories categories were exterior, lighting and lamps, and interior. Exterior parts sales totaled $209,608, led by grilles, antennas and mirrors. Top lighting parts included headlights, taillights, and fog/driving lights. Inside, the leading interior parts and accessories included switches and console parts, and shift knobs.

How prevalent is Internet purchasing among specialty-equipment enthusiasts?

"The past two years, SEMA research has shown that the highest percentage of automotive enthusiasts indicate they purchased their performance parts and accessories over the Internet," says SEMA research analyst Ty Michael.

"Interestingly, roughly the same percentage of enthusiasts indicated that they purchased their parts at traditional brick and mortar shops. Thirty-nine percent of enthusiasts said they purchased on the Internet, compared to 31% who indicated they went to a physical location to make their purchases."

Do online sales tell us anything about how parts move across countertops from brick and mortar retailers? Maybe.

Patti Freeman Evans, a senior analyst who monitors the retail industry for JupiterResearch, explains that while online sales are only a fraction of actual retail transactions, the Internet is a key influencer in buying decisions.

"We see online retail plateauing at 10-15 percent of total retail down the road - about double the penetration that catalogs ever got," Evans says.

She notes that as online commerce sites continue to develop more sophisticated tools to make purchasing easier and safer, some consumers will shift more of their wallet online.

"But that growth will really be organic, not dramatic. We look to the Internet to remain a highly influential channel for retailers to affect customer purchasing regardless of what channel the actual transaction occurs in."

Terapeak's Motors P&A Research provides sellers with access to comprehensive research on the past year of online auction data and allows users to get in-depth research reports on the competition and themselves. More at