WOLFSBURG, Germany — The global head of Volkswagen said Wednesday the brand is aiming for "around 5 percent market share" in the U.S. in the next ten years, a goal that would more than double its current position.
Herbert Diess, global head of the brand, told journalists through a translator that Volkswagen "intends to become a leading volume provider and aim for around 5 percent market share."
In 2017, Volkswagen's market share was 2 percent in the U.S., up 0.2 percentage point from 2016 but still far below the 3 percent market share it had in 2012.
Since it began selling vehicles in the United States, Volkswagen has achieved a market share of 5 percent or more in only two years: 1968 and 1970. The 2012 market share of 3 percent was the first time the brand had hit that mark since 1974.
Volkswagen's U.S. sales have recovered from its diesel emissions crisis. In 2017, the German brand's sales grew 5.2 percent, compared to a broader market decline of 1.8 percent.
"It is possible and we believe we are able to achieve it," Diess said. "We think we have a very solid product portfolio tailored for the U.S. We have a new marketing team that works hard on the brand experience and the brand. We believe that it's possible — not in a short while, maybe in a 10-year plan."
Diess said the brand plans to bring products to the U.S. "in the heart of the market," including the new long-wheelbase Tiguan introduced last year, as well as a new, smaller crossover that is to be introduced in China and known as the "People's SUV." Diess said Volkswagen is "trying to increase its SUV offerings worldwide," including a doubling of offerings in most markets.
Dave Sullivan, an analyst with AutoPacific, said the goal would require U.S. sales for Volkswagen of about 800,000 units. "That's a familiar number; 800,000 units in 2018 was the goal that [former VW Group CEO] Martin Winterkorn set for the U.S. for 2018 back in 2011."
Diess also reiterated the brand's electric vehicle strategy for the U.S. and elsewhere around the globe. Volkswagen will sell four full-electric vehicles in the U.S., beginning with the German-built I.D. Crozz in 2020. Diess said full-electric vehicles will be competitive offerings compared to more traditional propulsion systems such as diesel.
"Customers are willing to switch over to electric vehicles if the price is right," Diess said. "If you don't drive several hundred kilometers a day, it's probably the best vehicle you could buy today." He said that Volkswagen is prepared for electrification globally, but their success will still depend on governmental policies.
"Is it the right strategy for all countries? Probably not," Diess said. He cited Norway and Uraguay, which both have high levels of renewable electricity, as places where full electric vehicles make the most sense. "But if you have a high coal mix, you should probably go slower."