While the automaker still needs “to do some homework,” it is beginning to look like little more than a matter of time before Volkswagen officials approve a long-considered
One of the key questions left to resolve is whether the automaker will use that facility to produce a product specifically for the American market, agreed several senior officials, or one or more high-volume models that could be exported around the world, in part, to take advantage of the steadily weakening U.S. dollar.
The proposed plant, along with the recently-announced decision to move Volkswagen of America’s headquarters to suburban
“We need a culture of new ideas,” said Winterkorn, during a conversation at the Frankfurt Motor Show. And that, added VW’s
There’s no question the “people’s car” company needs to figure out that puzzle.
Going forward, the American subsidiary will attempt to focus more on its customers’ needs and demands and with Winterkorn’s blessing, that should mean product more closely in line with
The challenge will be to maintain what Jacoby calls the “VW-ness” of its products. “I don’t want a Camry,” he insisted, suggesting that while
Expect the German automaker’s products to continue to command a premium, but where they’re often 20 percent or more above middle-of-the-road entries, today, that could drop to a five-percent bump as VW brings production costs more in line.
Should all fall into place, Winterkorn is shooting for
On a global basis, VW expects to drive up volumes by a full third, to an anticipated eight million, in 2010. To get there, it is rolling out an array of new products through its various brands, which include not only Volkswagen, but Audi, Š koda, and Seat – the latter two not sold in the States – and the premium marques, Bentley, Lamborghini, and Bugatti.
Among the upcoming models that will wear the VW brand badge: the Tiguan, a compact SUV/crossover premiering in Frankfurt, a reborn Scirocco (which may not come to the
For the moment, Winterkorn was not ready to give full confirmation of the UP! minicar, a concept version of which has created quite a stir at the
Winterkorn, meanwhile, confirmed that VW is working on developing several new pickups, but Adrian Hallmark, second in command in the
“With four other projects in the pipeline (for the
Going forward, VWoA will focus on four core product segments:
*compact sedans, such as the Jetta;
*compact SUVs, like the Tiguan;
*mid-size sedans, like the Passat; and
*mid-size SUVs, such as the Touareg.
That’s not to say the automaker will ignore other segments. It will, for one thing, add the new, Chrysler-derived minivan. And like the corporate parent, it may add niche models, such as the Passat Coupe and even a larger sedan that would bridge the gap between Passat and the Phaeton.
That controversial, high-line luxury sedan – which competes against the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes’ S-Class – has been dropped from the
There has been plenty of confusion about Phaeton’s future, even among VW insiders. Winterkorn’s predecessor, Bernd Pischetsrieder, had planned to drop the four-door, but now, says the new CEO, “Phaeton will have a successor.” Promisingly, that news actually led to an increase of nearly 40 percent in the car’s European sales.
Exactly what the next model will look like isn’t clear, though the automaker recognizes there’s a step-up gap it may need to fill between Passat and Phaeton. Also unclear, said Hallmark, is whether the luxury car will make a return to the
“It’s always going to be a stretch,” he said, and before authorizing Phaeton’s
2007 Frankfurt Auto Show Coverage by TCC Team (9/11/2007)
The latest news and photos from the German Messe.
2009 Volkswagen Tiguan Preview by Marty Padgett (9/11/2007)
VW’s new compact SUV gets turbo power.
2007 Volkswagen UP! Concept by TCC Team (9/10/2007)
Forward into the past?