US boss of VW unit waiting for new SUVs to lift sales image

The senior manager in charge of the North American region said Volkswagen AG has forecasted “limited growth” in the United States for the upcoming couple of years and will instead try to conserve the current market share.

Volkswagen’s US boss, Michael Horn, hinted the German automaker’s core brand struggling sales in the US might be the cause of the company’s inability to reach their ambitious 2018 sales goal for the entire group. Horn minimized the importance of reaching the target of yearly sales in the US of 800,000 units – even as the group’s chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn believed the target to be achievable, in spite of the two consecutive years of negative delivery figures for the VW brand. The 2018 threshold “is still a relevant objective … but, on the other hand, if you just focus on one year and one number you would do crazy things, so the most important thing is to have a long-term strategy,” commented Horn. His view shows some realism on the behalf of the company that has been fighting to expand in America – very successful when talking about Audi and utterly disappointing when considering the mass-market VW brand.

The German automaker invested one billion dollars when setting up the plant near Chattanooga, Tennessee and now the regional chief is faced with the prospects of a model draught through 2017 even as local and Asian rivals are pushing a myriad of vehicles in popular segments, such as midsize crossovers and large pickups, where VW has little or nothing to offer. “There will be a phase until 2017 where we have limited growth … and where we need to defend our position,” said Horn in a recent interview. Afterwards, the brand will bring the new midsize SUV, the redesigned Tiguan crossover and other new models – including a $20,000 compact SUV.

Via Reuters