CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Volkswagen will decide within the next year whether to expand its new factory here to build a second VW model and whether to produce an Audi vehicle at the plant.
The decision to expand the Tennessee factory will be based on how well three new VW models do, VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn said.
"We are launching three new cars -- and I am sure they will be a success -- but we should wait and see," said Winterkorn, speaking on the sidelines of a ceremony marking the plant's grand opening last week.
The three vehicles are the redesigned 2011 Jetta made in Mexico and launched last year, the redesigned 2012 Passat being built at the Tennessee factory and the redesigned 2012 Beetle built in Mexico. The new Passat and Beetle both go on sale this fall.
Winterkorn would not say which VW vehicles could be added to the factory. VW executives previously have said a mid-sized SUV that would slot between the slow-selling Touareg and the compact Tiguan was being considered for U.S. production.
That size vehicle also could be produced for Audi, fitting between the Q5 and Q7 crossovers. Winterkorn said a Porsche model would not be built in the United States.
The VW chief said he is optimistic about Volkswagen's future in the United States and its ability to meet an annual sales target of 1 million units for VW and Audi by 2018.
Through April, the VW brand's U.S. sales are up 17 percent from the same period a year ago to 95,581 units. In 2010, the VW brand's U.S. sales hit 256,830, up 20 percent over 2009.
VW invested $1 billion in the Tennessee factory. Frank Fischer, head of Volkswagen's Chattanooga operations, said at the grand opening on Tuesday, May 24, that the factory had produced about 1,600 Passats to date for testing and for customer sales.