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Volkswagen‘s plan to triple its U.S. sales by 2018 and return to profitability after 8 consecutive years of losses may need to be revised suggests a new report by Automotive News. VW’s already lofty goals may now have become further out of reach with the recent news that the head of U.S. operations, Stefan Jacoby, has left the automaker to take the helm of Volvo.
Today Volkswagen CEO Dr. Martin Wintercon will announce detailed plans on how he still intents to achieve his goals, although we’re not expected to learn much, if anything, new, as the German automaker’s plans are already in motion.
With the launch of the new 2011 Jetta, VW announced pricing that is more in line with competitors, ending its premium pricing in the U.S. According to VW’s interim chief, Mark Barnes, the automaker expects big results from the new Jetta. “The new Jetta will be a very nice volume product for us,” said Barnes. “The goal is to bring the masses to Volkswagen who currently believe they cannot afford a Volkswagen.”
To follow the Jetta will come an all-new mid-size sedan, replacing the current Passat and VW has high hopes for this car as well. Critics aren’t as optimistic. Anil Valsan, director of automotive research at Frost & Sullivan in London, commented to AutoNews that, “I doubt that the new sedan by itself will suffice to propel their U.S. business.”
Still, Barnes says the company is on target to reach its sales goals and return to profitability by 2012 or 2013. Helping to do this is the fact that the U.S.-spec Jetta is less sophisticated (and therefore less expensive to build) than the European model. As well, the upcoming Passat-replacement will be built in the U.S. in a bid to save on production costs.
It would seem that for VW to succeed it will need added products in the U.S. marketplace. However, it’s still not clear if VW’s U.S. plan will include a version of the new Polo in the growing sub-compact segment.
With Audi‘s recent unveiling of the A8 Hybrid at the Geneva Auto Show and news the Q5 Hybrid is on its way, Audi has made known plans to add more hybrid models, starting with the A6. According to a report by AutoWeek, the next-generation A6 will be offered in full hybrid form late in 2012 as a 2013 model.
Audi is likely to add even more hybrid variants of its models after that, with a plan to significantly increase is offering of hybrid and electric cars over the next few years. The move is part of a plan by parent company Volkswagen to “own” the alternative power segment. VW will have some catching up to do, however, as Toyota already has quite a head start. However, VW also plans to surpass Toyota as the world’s largest auto maker over the next few years.
In addition, VW will make a big push with electric cars, having recently shown several Audi E-Tron concepts at different auto shows throughout the world. According to Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, Audi aims to build e-tron to become synonymous with electric vehicles, just as quattro has become synonymous with all-wheel drive.
Along with Audi developing its own E-tron models, VW will bring a slew of EVs to market in the next few years, including an E-Up (an electric Up minicar), an E-Golf and an E-Jetta. According to VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn, the E-Jetta will go on sale in the U.S., but probably not until 2013.
In addition to these changes, Audi also plans to improve the efficiency of its gasoline engines by 30 percent by 2020.
Smaller SUV model also being examined
Porsche has officially confirmed that it is looking at bringing a baby Boxster model to market. Rumored to have been in the works for some time, VW Chairman Dr. Martin Winterkorn told the U.K.’s Autocar that such a sports car is under considreration.
When pressed on the issue, Winterkorn responded; “Let’s just say we do not usually waste our effort…”
According to the report, the sports car, rumored to be called the “new 356″, won’t really be that much under the current Boxster, as Porsche looks to take its Boxster model further up-market. Power would come from a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, making roughly 250-hp. This new model will also share its chassis with Audi’s upcoming R4 electric car.
In addition to the new sports car, Winterkorn also confirmed that Porsche is taking a long, hard look at a smaller SUV to slot in underneath the Cayenne.
A rumored deal between Volkswagen and Suzuki has been revived after the VW CEO Dr. Martin Winterkorn told a German magazine that Suzuki would make an “interesting partner.”
“Suzuki would be an interesting partner because of its competency in small cars,” Winterkorn said in an interview with German publication Manager Magazin.
It is believed that Volkswagen is looking for a company like Suzuki to gain expertise in launching a mini-car in emerging markets. The partnership between the two automakers would see the development of a mini car to slot in under the upcoming small cars that will be based on the Volkswagen Up! concept. Currently, Suzuki’s Alto (pictured above) is the number one selling car in India.
In June, Reuters reported that Volkswagen was interested in gaining a 10 percent stake in Suzuki but the Japanese company’s Chief Executive Osamu Suzuki denied any contact between the two companies.
Porsche’s new CEO, Dr. Martin Winterkorn, has declared that he expects Porsche to double its annual sales in the next four years.
Winterkorn, who also chairs Germany’s largest automaker Volkswagen, has bold ambitions to expand Porsche’s market share by increasing sales units to 150,000 annually.
While the Cayenne SUV helped Porsche to almost double in size, similar results are expected of the new Panamera sedan. Porsche has so far listed expected sales units for that model to be reasonably low, but that will change once it introduces more affordable V6 powered models.
Reaching that goal, however, will in all likelihood be impossible without additional platforms, leading to increased speculation that Porsche will introduce a model below the Boxster - likely based on the VW Blue Sport concept. Additional sales volume, however, could more easily be made up through the introduction of a more entry-level crossover, which would slot in under the Cayenne. The possibility here, of course, is that this new baby Cayenne would be based on the same architecture as the newly released Audi Q5.
No doubt Porsche purists will not like this news, much in the same way that they threw up their arms in disgust over the Cayenne – a vehicle was necessary to save Porsche from bankruptcy.
VW Head Martin Winterkorn appointed Porsche CEO
Volkswagen continues to call it an “integration”, but the company’s business relationship with Porsche is undeniably a takeover. Today VW agreed to buy a 42 percent stake in the sports car maker, paying $4.7 billion for the huge chunk of Porsche.
Not satisfied it’s a takeover? Well, how about the fact that Volkswagen’s Chairman Dr. Martin Winterkorn was appointed CEO of Porsche.
Winterkorn, sounding more like a conqueror than a merging partner said that, “Porsche is a real enrichment for our company’s portfolio.”
By adding Porsche to its “portfolio” VW will be made up of 10 automakers including Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Skoda, Seat and Lamborghini.
Porsche’s last CEO Wendelin Wiedeking was recently ousted by the other executives at Porsche after his failed attempt to buy the significantly-larger VW company. Wiedeking opposed the sale to Volkswagen and was removed in order to clear the way for today’s deal.
[Source: Automotive News]
Volkswagen and Chinese automaker BYD (Build Your Dreams) have signed a “memorandum of understanding” announcing that the two car manufacturers will seek ways to work together to bring electric vehicles and hybrids to market.
Volkswagen recently announced its TwinDrive diesel-electric hybrid system and we recently reported on a rumor that the German automaker will bring an electric car to the Frankfurt Auto Show in September. BYD, which is now part-owned by Warren Buffett, already has a two plug-in gasoline-electric hybrids (the F3DM and the F6DM) on the road in China and plans to bring a full electric car (the e6, shown above) to market soon.
After an informal meeting in Germany, where BYD representatives had the chance to see VW’s facilities and drive the TwinDrive Golf (as well as the still-under-wraps electric car), the agreement was signed by Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, Dr Martin Winterkorn, and the Chairman of the Board of Management of BYD, Wang Chuanfu.
Official release after the jump: