2014 Detroit Auto Show: Volkswagen reveals plans for mid-size SUV – Los Angeles Times

Posted: Monday, January 13, 2014

In a move to get closer to its lofty goal of selling 1 million vehicles annually in the U.S. by 2018, Volkswagen will bring a seven-seat sport utility vehicle to the market in two years, the automaker’s chief executive, Martin Winterkorn, said at the start of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Speaking to reporters Sunday night, Winterkorn said he believes the German automaker is on track to reach that sales figure.  It sold just about 570,000 autos in the U.S. in 2013 and replaced Jonathan Browning, its top executive in North America, at the end of the year.

Volkswagen wants to sell 800,000 VW-branded cars and an additional 200,000 from its Audi luxury nameplate annually in the U.S.

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Winterkorn gave few details about the SUV except to release a concept photo and say it will go on sale in 2016.

Michael Horn, who recently replaced Browning as chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America, told The Times that the SUV is a key part of the automaker’s growth strategy.

“If you want to be successful in the U.S.,” Horn said, “You have to in be in the mid-sized SUV market.”

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VW officials said the new SUV will be priced below the automaker’s Tourag utility and will be targeted to compete with the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer.  The Tourag starts at about $45,000.

Browning was facing pressure to grow VW sales rapidly after the company spent about $1 billion to open a factory to build Passat sedans in Chattanooga, Tenn., two years ago.

Sales of the company’s flagship VW brand in the U.S. fell 7% to about 408,000 vehicles last year. VW’s drop occurred even as U.S. auto sales have grown almost 8% last year.

Last year the VW brand was passed in sales by Subaru, one of the smaller Japanese automakers.


Photos: L.A. Auto Show

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