Today in New York City prior to the start of press days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Volkswagen of America Inc. President and CEO Jonathan Browning laid out ambitious plans the VW Group and Volkswagen brands have for the United States.
After a stellar sales year in 2011 that saw VW brand sales in the U.S. go up over 26 percent and TDI (diesel) sales jump 33 percent, the automaker's 2012 sales year promises more climbing up the sales and market share ladders.
Citing a wild up-and-down past in the U.S., Browning pointed at the numbers for the dark year of 1993 and reminded one and all that VW sold less than 50,000 units. Nowadays, with over 320,000 brand sales the bad times seem far behind as VW Group in Wolfsburg, Germany has invested well over $1 billion in its revived presence on U.S. shores. The current improved 2.5% it possesses of the U.S. total market is a percentage last seen way back in 1981.
Not including sales for Porsche, overall VW Group sales of all brands put together reached over 444,000. The goal stated by VW for this Group figure in 2012 is 500,000+, or a roughly 12.5 percent growth figure.
Total capacity for the current layout and work schedule at the new Chattanooga factory stands at 150,000 and actual production of that amount, according to chairman and CEO of Chattanooga operations Frank Fischer, will arrive sometime in 2013.
The "brown field" site outside of the Tennessee city has several more acres of capacity and can always add shifts, but Fischer would not reveal future sales volume goals should all of these options be exercised. "All operations are focused on Passat getting fully up and running," Browning told us. This in response to constant hints from VW that it fully intends to build the Tiguan B-segment CUV in Tennessee sooner than later.
Assisting volume numbers will be the intended start of Audi A4, and perhaps Q5, production in Chattanooga at some point not too far in the future (probably waiting for the next-generation "B9" model due to ramp up by the end of 2015). Audi President and CEO Rupert Stadler has stated recently that this is indeed in the plans.
For this year's NAIAS in Detroit, Volkswagen is focusing on world debuts of the Jetta Hybrid and the Beetle-based plug-in E Bugster concept.