VW says it expects new SUV to revitalize U.S. sales as it outlines 2018 strategy

Winterkorn: "The Americas are a significant cornerstone of the 2018 strategy.”

HANOVER, Germany (Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen AG plans to redouble efforts to boost flagging sales in the United States as well as grow in Brazil as Europe’s largest automaker chases Toyota Motor Corp.’s global lead.

VW laid the foundation for growth in North and South America with the decision to make a mid-sized SUV for the U.S. market, build a new Audi factory in Mexico and revamp its model lineup in Brazil, the company said in a statement in advance of the annual shareholders meeting today.

“The Americas are a significant cornerstone of the 2018 strategy,” CEO Martin Winterkorn said in the statement from the meeting in Hanover. “We want to and we must grow there substantially and profitably.”

Top VW managers in the United States have been pushing to expand the Chattanooga plant to build a three-row SUV due to go on sale in the United States in 2016. A decision on a plant site is expected this year. The SUV could be assembled in Mexico.

VW, which overtook General Motors Co. to become the world’s second-biggest carmaker last year, reiterated today that annual deliveries may exceed 10 million vehicles for the first time in 2014, four years earlier than forecast. Plans to introduce 100 new or revamped cars through next year are part of a strategy to overtake Toyota as the global auto-sales leader by 2018.

In the first four months of 2014, the German automaker’s sales rose 6 percent to more than 3.2 million vehicles, a record for the period, the company said today. The growth has been backed chiefly by expansion in China, as its efforts to push into the U.S. market have stalled. The namesake brand’s sales fell 10 percent through April.



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