PARIS -- Volkswagen is mulling new models to bolster its car-heavy U.S. lineup as it charts a U.S. recovery plan, its global brand chief says.
Speaking to reporters at a media event here, VW brand chairman Herbert Diess said the company will decide “probably early next year” whether to add additional models to its U.S. car and light-truck lineup.
Diess didn’t offer details on the models under study, but hinted strongly that VW is more likely to add more SUVs and crossovers than sedans. He said crossovers have greater growth potential and noting that some brands offer two or three models in a single segment.
VW is refashioning its U.S. strategy to derive the bulk of sales from midsize and compact sedans and crossovers. Its long-awaited midsize crossover arrives next spring, followed by a redesigned Tiguan with a longer wheelbase by mid-year. Early in 2018, VW will launch a redesigned Jetta compact car ahead of a next-generation Passat midsize sedan in the years that follow.
“We think we need more product cadence still to really conquer the Americas and I hope after agreeing on the base business plan we can decide on more products,” Diess told reporters. “We think we are right with the two new SUVs to come, and we still have a few more typically-American cars in my mind to really strike back in America.”
Additional nameplates, especially in fast-growing crossover segments, would give VW a much needed boost as it aims to recover from diesel emission violations and a run of Euro-centric product planning that saddled the brand with a lineup that lacks competitive crossovers.
Through August, the VW brand’s U.S. sales are down 13 percent amid a 0.5 percent gain in U.S. auto sales.
“So far we have been really a niche player in the U.S. with a wide portfolio but only selling limited amounts of cars, not really hitting the sweet spot of the market,” Diess said. “We really re-thought our U.S. strategy.”