VW Back on the Track in the US Market image

VW begins to get back on the track in the US market, after decades of false starts and promises.

In 2012 the German automaker sold 438,133 units in the US, up 35% and reached 3% market share compared with 2011. VW managed to surpass 300,000 annual sales in the US only three times over the past 33 years. In 1993 the automaker fell to 0.4% US market share with little under 50,000 units sold and was considering leaving the market.

Now, to keep its momentum, VW has to introduce a cheaper SUV model, to compete with the Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer, according to Rainer Michel, vice president of product marketing and strategy for Volkswagen of America.

“It’s the biggest priority at the moment,” he said, noting that VW is “still a sedan-rich company.”

VW relies on its current US-customized models such as the Jetta, Golf, Passat and Beetle and for the SUV segment, the automaker imports the high-end Touareg and the small Tiguan, but it still needs a cheaper family-size SUV. The only solution would be the CrossBlue concept which was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

“We are gauging reaction, and it was very good, and we are now doing our homework to get to a decision with the board,” Michel said in an interview.