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U.S. Executive, European Automaker: JONATHAN BROWNING, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America

Jonathan Browning

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Jonathan Browning is more than halfway to the group's target of 1 million annual U.S. sales by 2018. The group topped 500,000 through October, up 30 percent from the same period a year ago largely because of skyrocketing VW brand sales.

Since Browning arrived at VWoA two years ago, the United States has played a more important role in the development of VW Group vehicles. Browning and his executives are involved early to make sure vehicles are suited to U.S. tastes and quality standards.

The 53-year-old Englishman is a former chairman of General Motors' Vauxhall division and was the chief of Jaguar under Ford Motor Co. He worked for GM from 1981 to 1997 and returned in 2001 after his stint at Ford.

VW opened a plant in Chattanooga last year to build the mid-sized Passat.

That factory will likely be expanded in the coming years with the addition of a vehicle Browning has been pushing -- a mid-sized SUV/crossover designed for the United States.

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