Volkswagen, the struggles of being American image

While overall the Volkswagen Group is en route to keep up its promise of topping Toyota Motor for world automotive leadership, the group still has issues with some regions, particularly its namesake brand and the US market.

The automaker’s annual woes include certain regions of the world – depending on the political and economic climates – but it’s no secret that for some time now the US market seems to have become the Achilles’ heal for the core Volkswagen brand. The group has reason to celebrate, since Audi has been gaining a tremendous amount of followers, allowing it last year to surge past Cadillac and become the fourth best selling luxury brand in the United States.

With Volkswagen is the other way around – back in 2012 the brand was delivering 438,134 vehicles and last year the figure dipped to 366,970 units. The drop was even more concerning since the overall industry continued its annual gains – posting last year the fifth yearly gain. Now, the group’s executives are rethinking their strategy for the US market eying long-term, sustainable growth. For example, the MQB modular strategy for its platforms will yield cost savings across the brands, with the number of vehicles sold on the architecture expected to jump from 2 million units last year to 7 million autos in 2018.

The US offensive is also planned and budgeted: late next year the Chattanooga plant will start the production of a new, 7-seater sport utility vehicle to complement the aging SUV lineup that now only has the Tiguan and Touareg. The next Tiguan will also grow larger, making room for a new introduction in the line-up, a new compact crossover based on the Golf and inspired by the T-Roc concept – to be ready sometimes in 2018.