Volkswagen CEO Jonathan BrowningDealers across the U.S. have been in shrink mode for years, as auto sales have dropped to the point where many stores could no longer remain open. That trend should reverse itself by 2014, though, at least for Volkswagen, as that brand looks to improve its sales volume here in the States.

Wards Automotive reports that VW's drive to hit 800,000 U.S. sales per year by 2018 will result in an expanded dealer-base. In the near term, VW is looking at evolutionary changes to its 588 U.S. dealers to handle increased volume, but VW CEO Jonathan Browning said "radical change" will be in order as sales really start to take off.

How many dealers represents "radical change?" Browning isn't interested in forecasting based on the fact that he doesn't know how healthy the U.S. auto industry will be in seven years. But Browning did talk about new products and technology during an interview at the Passat launch in Chattanooga, TN, and the chief executive sees a seven-passenger vehicle in our future. One option could be a new Microbus based off the Bulli concept from the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. He also claims that 20 percent of Volkswagen's overall volume in the U.S. will pack clean diesel tech. The oil-burning engines won't be featured across the entire model lineup, but could make up significant volume for vehicles like the Jetta and Golf.

[Source: Wards Automotive]