Two years after Volkswagen AG began its latest stride to become one of the best-sold brands in the US car market, Detroit’s automakers are still way ahead.
Consumer Reports praised the Chevrolet Impala as the best sedan on the market. Ford’s Fusion is snatching market share from Toyota’s Camry, the best-selling passenger car in the U.S. Meanwhile, the VW Passat, which was built bigger and cheaper to attract mainstream American customers, never even entered the Top 20 models chart. Volkswagen is now the world’s third-largest automaker thanks to well-timed strategies in China and Brazil.
“We understand Europe, we understand China and we understand Brazil,” said VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech. “But we only understand the U.S. to a certain degree so far.”
The lack of progress in the world’s second-largest auto market is a serious source of dissent for Volkswagen, which was actually the top-selling foreign automaker in the U.S. until Toyota passed it in 1975.
Piech’s comment also signals the start of a departure from the company’s usual confidence about meeting the 2018 goal to become the auto world’s leader in sales and profits. And with VW being outspent on advertising by more than two to one and slow to fill gaps in its lineup, the German automaker is at risk of missing its 2018 U.S. sales target by 33 %, according to IHS Automotive.