Volkswagen is intent on becoming the world’s largest automaker by 2018, which necessitates dramatically increasing its United States sales. With a goal to sell 800,000 vehicles here in such a short time frame, VW will focus on core products like the 2011 Jetta and the 2012 Passat to help reach this milestone.
Last year, VW sold 4. 5 million vehicles globally, but just 256,830 were delivered in the U.S. Rather than expanding its lineup to reach the ambitious sales goal, the German automaker will instead focus more of its attention on the core products that already exist within its lineup.
“Somewhere along the way, frankly, we lost our bearings in this market, and we failed to build on that emotional equity and became more of a marginal brand whereas once we had been pioneers,” VW’s U.S. CEO Jonathan Browning told the audience at the Automotive News World Congress yesterday.
In 2010, VW shocked the U.S. market, with the low-cost-of-entry 2011 Jetta, which starts at $16,765. The automaker also announced its entry sedan would become available with a hybrid powertrain sometime this year. VW’s latest surprise however was the introduction of its U.S.-spec 2012 Passat at the 2011 Detroit auto show. With a larger cabin than ever before and a starting price estimated around $20,000, the new sedan is sure to make a splash in the midsized segment.
The Jetta topped VW’s U.S. sales chart last year, but the Passat sat miserably low as the automaker’s second-worst performer. With the introduction of an all-new model and expected $7000 price drop, the Passat is sure to gain ground this year. Browning also recognized the growth of diesel-powered vehicles here, and said an oil-burning Passat was in the works, but didn’t specify a timeframe for its arrival.
VW certainly has a significant global presence, but it still has some hurdles to climb here in the U.S. The relatively small Subaru, for instance, eclipsed VW’s U.S. sales last year by almost 7000 units. With a strong 20-percent gain for 2010 in the U.S., VW will need to keep up the momentum to reach its 2018 goal. Do you think the new Jetta and Passat have what it takes for VW to meet its goal? Share your comments and thoughts in the comments section below.