VW Maintains Focus on Market Dominance


Photo credit: VW

While many car manufacturers are experiencing problems with sales and profitability, especially some in Europe. Volkswagen just keeps focusing on achieving market dominance and improving their company, its sales, its products,and its operations.

You have to admire anyone or a company that has achieved what Volkswagen AG did for 2012, and then continues their efforts rather than resting on past accomplishments.

Consider that VW just flipped the switch at the largest solar installation at any U.S. plant. This 33-acre solar park, located next to VW’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, provides 13 percent of the factory’s energy needs during production hours, the company says.

“We are proud to power up the biggest solar park of any car manufacturer in North America,” Frank Fischer, head of VW’s Chattanooga operations, said in a statement.

The 9.5-megawatt solar setup will supply all the plant’s electricity needs when manufacturing lines aren’t operating, Volkswagen said.

Other VW plants using solar power include the main plant at Wolfsburg and a factory in Emden, Germany. However when Volkswagen AG switched on its largest photo-voltaic installation worldwide, the automaker builds on its U.S. auto factory’s recognition by an environmental group for sustainable operations.

VW names new sales strategy boss

Volkswagen Group has appointed Gert Schardey to run sales strategy and business development at its core VW brand.

Schardey will start his new job at VW’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, on Feb. 1 and will report to the group’s head of sales and marketing, Christian Klingler.

Let’s hope that The German national, is up to the task and can build on the success of Stephan Woellenstein, 49, who he replaces.

VW plans extra shifts to meet demand for new Golf

Volkswagen says it is planning additional production to meet demand for the latest version of its Golf hatchback, which went on sale at the end of last year. The main Wolfsburg factory in Germany will add three Saturday shifts before the end of March to build 2,000 additional cars, the company said.

Orders for the seventh-generation model, which arrived in showrooms in Germany in November, have exceeded 100,000 cars, the company said.

The Golf has led sales in Europe for the past nine years, VW said. The Golf is Europe’s best-selling car but sales are taking a hit in the region. European sales of the Golf fell by 32 percent to 22,698 in December compared with the same month in 2011, according to market researchers JATO Dynamics. Full-year sales were down 11 percent to 485,742, according to JATO.

According to media reports, VW said the comparison with previous years was ”unfair” since the new Golf was in its start-up phase and sales only began in the market on Nov. 10, making November a shorter sales month. It also said it was not yet offering the variant range available with previous generations of the compact.

Volkswagen plans Golf push in Americas with a shift to Mexico

Volkswagen joins other carmakers investing in Spanish output

Volkswagen plans to invest 785 million euros ($1 billion) over the next 5 years in a plant in northern Spain that builds the subcompact Polo model. Volkswagen is the third carmaker in recent months to boost investment in the recession-hit country.

Audi plans to double Middle East sales by 2020

Audi plans to double its Middle East sales to at least 20,000 vehicles a year by 2020, helped by investment in showrooms and service centers, its local chief said.

“It is the minimum target. You have to have buildings, you have to have capacity,” Trevor Hill, managing director of Audi Middle East, said on Monday following a presentation of the unit’s 2012 sales in Dubai.

“Already those investments have been signed off, most of them have been made already … So half the battle is already won [in] creating capacity and now we have to work in terms of volume improvement and in terms of quality,” he added.

The Volkswagen Group brand, which posted a 16.4 percent sales jump to a record 9,155 units in the Middle East in 2012, aims to sell at least 10,000 vehicles in the region in 2013, Hill told the presentation.

Audi expects sales in the premium segment to surge by between 12 and 15 percent in the Middle East this year, while the overall passenger car market could see a rise of 6 to 8 percent from an estimated 1.1 to 1.2 million vehicles sold in 2012, Hill added.

Together with its local partners, Audi has seven major construction projects on the way, including showrooms and after-sales service facilities in the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar.

More opportunities for Audi

Unrest in the Arab world since early 2011 may have helped to boost Audi’s sales in the UAE, its top market in the region, as the country benefited from its safe-haven status, drawing in businesses and expatriates.

“Dubai is growing quite rapidly so that will create a lot more opportunities for us to sell. There are a lot of wealthy people living in Dubai right now,” Hill said.

Audi expects to increase global annual sales of luxury cars and sport utility vehicles to 1.5 million earlier than the planned 2015 target date, CEO Rupert Stadler said this month. By 2020, the automaker plans to boost deliveries to more than 2 million as it aims to snatch leadership of the premium car market from rival BMW.

VW considers launching a low-cost subbrand in China, executive says

Porsche expects Macan to copy Cayenne’s success in China

Porsche is counting on emulating the success of its Cayenne SUV in China when it launches the smaller Macan in the market next year as part of expansion plans aimed at making China the carmaker’s No. 1 market.

The sports car maker, which counts the Cayenne SUV as its best seller in China, hopes to build on the success of the larger SUV as part of a push to boost sales in the world’s largest car market.

“I’m very confident that when this car [the Macan] has been fully launched in the full year, China will be the number one market,” said Helmut Broeker, head of China operations.

As part of the drive to make China its No. 1 market Porsche will also begin deliveries of its $2.2 million 918 Spyder hybrid in the first half of 2014, as well as doubling the number of dealerships in the country to 95 in 2014 from 49 now, Broeker said.

“The fact that they’re bringing a smaller version of the Cayenne SUV model is something that specifically in China will work quite well,” said Klaus Paur, the Shanghai-based global head of automotive coverage at research firm Ipsos. “It is catering to a segment that is fast growing. It is also part of a trend of luxury brands making their cars more accessible to the market.”

918 Spyder hybrid

Porsche is taking orders for the 918 Spyder hybrid supercar, the first of which will be delivered to buyers next year, Broeker said.

The car will cost 13.4 million yuan ($2.2 million) in China when including import and consumption taxes, according to the company. “The 918 Spyder of course is a great product for China,” Broeker said. “There’s quite a lot of interest in China. But I don’t think you will see many cars on the road.”

This year, Porsche will open about 20 dealerships in cities including Beijing, Shenzhen, Foshan and Chengdu, Broeker said. The China head wants sales this year to be a “few cars” above levels in 2012, when deliveries rose 28 percent to a record 31,205 units, he said, declining to be more specific.

The automaker will also start selling new editions of the four-door Panamera and Cayman this year. The Panamera is Porsche’s second-best selling model in China after the Cayenne with deliveries at about 9,000 units last year, Broeker said.

The automaker has no plans to follow other foreign automakers in manufacturing vehicles in China to avoid import duties as customers expect their Porsches to be engineered and made in Germany, Broeker added.

To promote its image in China, Porsche plans to open a 135-million yuan handling circuit and training center in Shanghai in 2014, next to the city’s Formula One racetrack.

Volkswagen ponders U.S. pickup

Ulrich Hackenberg, the Volkswagen AG board member in charge of product development, says VW might consider a pickup for its U.S. lineup — but not until after 2018.

VW sells a light pickup called the Amarok in many markets. Developing a larger truck for Americans would be costly but might be viable, Hackenberg said.

He added: “If we are established as we think we should be after 2018, then maybe it’s a possibility to look to such classic segments.

The Skoda Yeti Laurin & Klement

The popular Skoda Yeti line-up has been bolstered by the arrival of the new top-of-the-range Laurin & Klement model. It’s based on the Elegance, but comes with more than £4000 worth of extras for £2000.

If you’re not familiar with the Laurin & Klement name, in recent years, it’s been used by Skoda to identify its flagship high specification models – but it’s actually used in recognition to Václav Laurin and Václav Klement, the founding fathers of Skoda, who in 1895 started a company, and established it (in its earliest years) as being the manufacturer of some of the world’s best cars.

SEAT expands Mii and Ibiza ranges

SEAT has expanded its Ibiza and Mii ranges with new Toca editions which come with extra equipment as standard, including a removable touch screen computer with sat-nav.

Those who are quick and order before April will get reduced prices – the Mii Toca is priced at £8995 and the Ibiza at £9995 until the offer ends, after which the Mii goes up by £850 and the Ibiza by £2705.

The Mii Toca is available in both three- and five-door guises, and is powered by a 1.0-litre engine with 60PS in both forms, making for low emissions of 105g/km.

It is the ideal car for younger drivers and those in urban areas thanks to its size and low group 1 insurance.