It's not unusual for import brands to fly their dealers to headquarters for special events. But Volkswagen, which has big ambitions for U.S. growth, recently used a trip to Germany as a recruiting tool for dealers who don't now sell the VW brand.
More than a dozen non-VW dealers traveled to Wolfsburg last month to hear VW's pitch about a franchise. Sales chief Christian Klingler showed off new models and told them the company will need more U.S. dealers to hit growth targets, Dallas dealer Rene Isip told Bloomberg. Isip has Honda and Toyota stores.
VW aims to sell 800,000 Volkswagens and Audis in the United States by 2018. It sold 360,179 last year and is opening a plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., to build the Passat.
VW doesn't have an immediate and aggressive plan to add stores, spokesman Tony Cervone told Bloomberg. But it's time to lay the groundwork; he said a push might be needed around 2015 if VW meets sales targets.
"What they are doing is getting good dealers to be more familiar with Volkswagen and the company's future," Isip said. "I want to be a VW dealer and I'd like to do it pretty quickly."