Drive Type: Manual
Model: Beetle - Classic
Exterior Color: Red
Interior Color: Black
Clarklake, Michigan, United States
In case you didn't know, Volkswagen is hell-bent on becoming the largest automaker in the world. The German carmaker has inched closer to that goal, having outsold General Motors in China last quarter for the first time in eight years.
Volkswagen's sales in China, its largest marker, increased by 21 percent last quarter to 704,991 units. Those numbers almost tripled GM's third-quarter growth, and were enough to beat out the American automaker's 664,765 sales. GM, however, still leads in year-to-date sales in China by a slim margin of around 77,000 units. The Asian nation also happens to be GM's largest market, and according to the report in Automotive News, China's car market may grow to be larger than the US, Japan and Germany combined in three years' time.
About the news his company was bested in China by VW last quarter, GM CEO Dan Akerson is quoted saying, "It's not whether you're the biggest car manufacturer. It's whether you want to be the most profitable." It should be noted of these figures that GM includes truck figures, yet excludes Hong Kong and Macau from its Chinese sales numbers, while VW does just the opposite. Through September of this year, Volkswagen had 5 of the 10 best selling vehicles in China. GM boasted three of the cars on that list.
Today in the Tell Us How You Really Feel file we have Bernd Osterloh, head of Volkswagen AG's Group Works Councils and member of the company's supervisory board, labeling the company's US operations "a disaster." Why? Because Osterloh believes VW of America doesn't have the models it needs to be competitive here, hasn't been decisive enough about its plans and German higher-ups still don't understand the US market.
In truth, the top labor rep at the German conglomerate is echoing sentiments we've heard from VWoA executives for years, and there's been the same commentary from dealers: Germany doesn't pay enough attention to what the US market really wants. Even ex-VWoA CEO Stefan Jacoby, who preceded the recently departed Jonathan Browning, said early in his tenure that one of his tasks was to get his German bosses to start delivering what the US market demanded. New CEO Michael Horn is saying much the same thing seven years later, telling Sky News that it has to increase "the speed at which we bring new models to the market and innovation to the market."
Osterloh wants to get "more models" here, including a pickup truck, but we'd wonder if the economics have changed from when Jacoby said they'd need to sell 100,000 per year to make money. Osterloh also wants a decision on where the CrossBlue will be built. Although it looked as if the Chatanooga, TN plant would get the call, the Puebla, Mexico plant is still in the running because of lower operating costs. No matter what happens right now, Osterloh thinks the situation won't get better for another two years when revamped models arrive, but at least the company can start taking the steps for a better US future.
The Volkswagen brand sold 407,704 cars last year, a 6.95-percent decline compared to 2012, and it's down a further 8.36 percent through the end of April 2014 compared to this time last year. In order to to put the sales football between its Strategy 2018 goal posts, the brand would need to add 100,000 more sales every year to achieve the lofty 800,000-unit target. Coming to grips with how unreasonable that is, VW US CEO Michael Horn has said, "For now, we have to have realistic targets."
The reasons for the brand's slow-down are imprecise, but lots of folks are throwing lots of reasons around. Last November, VW Group Chairman Ferdinand Piech told Bloomberg, "We understand Europe, we understand China and we understand Brazil, [but] we only understand the US to a certain degree so far." Analysts say the brand hasn't had midsize and compact SUV offerings, especially an overdue retail version of the CrossBlue, and the ones it does have are priced too high for their segments. It "didn't introduce enough new engines, or alternative technologies or model variants" for the Passat and Jetta. It devoted so many resources to China that the US market suffered. It was being outspent two-to-one on advertising by competitors. Its J.D. Power dependability ratings aren't high enough to overcome its past. It "has never really taken the US customer seriously." And so on.
There's still no official admission of defeat concerning the target, but reading between the lines there are some VW execs that appear to accept it won't happen short of some deus ex machina. Still,