It's Not Bragging if You Can Back It Up
VW has a plan to be the biggest automaker in the world by 2018
VW, though, is breaking that mold. Its goal, by 2018, is to be "No. 1 in the world in terms of (production and sales) numbers," according to VW Group management board member Christian Klingler. VW still trails Toyota, of course, and once-dominant GM has been in a bit of a free fall since declaring bankruptcy and closing or selling off once-prominent brands such as Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and, soon, Saab. VW on the other hand, has an impressive stable: the eponymous Volkswagen models (the GTI, pictured, just won Automobile Magazine's Car of the Year award); luxury brands Audi and Bentley; supercar makers Bugatti and Lamborghini; and European-only brands Skoa and Seat.
The strategy outlined by the VW brass, though, has met with some skepticism. The company would have to triple U.S. sales in that time frame, despite both VW and Audi being hampered by initial and long-term quality and reliability issues. Not to mention the fact that VW is putting a lot of faith in its diesel technologies to move cars off U.S. lots, even though diesel vehicles have never been strong sellers stateside. The carmaker is also exploring small gasoline engines that, thanks to VW engineering, deliver superior performance but require premium fuel to prevent damage; the increased miles per gallon would also likely be offset with a higher sticker price to compensate for the technology's initial expense.
Where VW could make a big splash, though, is with alternative-fuel powertrains. VW is developing a couple of different concepts -- like the 170 mpg L1 diesel-electric hybrid and the tiny all-electric E-Up! city car. Neither is expected on lots for several years, however, meaning companies like Chevy and Nissan will have beat them to the punch well in advance.
Well, it's a grand plan -- maybe impossible, or incomplete, even -- but you have to applaud VW for trying. No one said getting to the top is easy.
(Source: USA Today.)
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