Bernhard is already looking for cost savings at VW

Ex-Chrysler boss targets new SUV for economies

Wolfsburg, Germany. Wolfgang Bernhard is intervening in the operations of Volkswagen group earlier than expected.

After short trips to some VW group locations such as Skoda's main plant in Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic, and after individual talks with managers, the former Chrysler executive is now starting to refocus the group's model range.

Bernhard scheduled a four-day workshop for next week for to discuss VW's planned new compact SUV.

Around 300 participants will be working in teams to come up with suggestions on how to optimize the costs for the sport-utility. VW plans to build the vehicle from 2007.

Bernhard wants to make more use of existing modules of the PQ 35 (Golf) and PQ 46 (Passat) platforms "to save time and money on the development of the small Touareg," an insider says.

There are still arguments over the price of the new SUV. Sales will depend on how it will be positioned against competitors such as the Toyota RAV4 and the BMW X3. This will also have an impact on the choice of manufacturing location.

Bernhard has also started a benchmark analysis at the Wolfsburg plant to look for improvements there. According to VW's plans, that's where the new SUV will be built.

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