As the European market still hurts from the recession, VW tries to achieve its goal of overtaking Toyota and GM for the top manufacturer of the world by expanding its overseas operations.
“The European market may take years to fully regain its former strength,” said Stefan Bratzel, head of the Center of Automotive Management think-tank near Cologne. “Overseas (car) markets will account for a large share of future growth.”
Volkswagen has reportedly decided to move forward with its plans to set up production in the fast-growing Southeast Asian markets (ASEAN), closing one of the few remaining gaps in its huge global factory network encompassing 102 facilities. The ASEAN group comprises Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
“We will certainly become an active player in the region in the next years,” said Group production chief Michael Macht. “We are currently very actively on the road in these countries.”
Europe’s biggest carmaker may announce later this year an initial 200 million-euro ($265.33 million) investment to build a car plant in Indonesia, an Indonesian government minister said last month, citing the location of Cikampek, West Java. On the other hand, Macht declined to comment on which country VW would eventually pick and said decisions on brands and products have not been taken yet.
Separately, the German giant is considering a launch of commercial vehicles in the United States in future, as part of steps to expand its core namesake brand in the world’s No. 2 auto market. Commercial pickup trucks and vans such as VW’s box-type Caddy model “certainly represent an opportunity” for the United States, according to Jonathan Browning, CEO of VW’s U.S. operations – also referring to the success of Ford’s Transit Connect van.
VW is seeking to boost its presence in the United States, eyeing 800,000 VW-brand and 200,000 Audi-brand sales by 2018, when it aims to snatch the global sales crown.