Volkswagen AG plans to expand its portfolio of sport-utility vehicles to gain ground in the U.S. on Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Co.
“We will be looking to really grow, particularly in the compact SUV segment,” VW’s U.S. chief Jonathan Browning said in a phone interview yesterday from the unit’s headquarters in Herndon, Virginia. “Over time, I think there’s also scope for growth in terms of a larger SUV within the portfolio.”
VW, Europe’s largest carmaker, currently has two SUV models, the full-size Touareg and compact Tiguan. VW sold 20,946 Tiguans in the U.S. in 2010 and 4,713 Touaregs. Carmakers delivered 3.3 million SUVs in the world’s second-largest auto market last year, 29 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. Honda’s CR-V model was the most popular, generating sales of 203,714, according to Ivan Drury, an analyst at Edmunds.com.
VW aims to triple U.S. sales to 1 million vehicles by 2018, with the Audi luxury unit making up 20 percent of the total, as part of an effort to overtake Toyota as the world’s largest automaker. VW will open a factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, by April and start delivering a new mid-sized sedan built at the plant in the third quarter, Browning said.
VW’s preferred shares rose as much as 1.60 euros, or 1.3 percent, to 127.35 euros and were up 0.4 percent as of 3:05 p.m. in Frankfurt. The stock, which has more than doubled since the beginning of 2007, gained 86 percent last year, the best performance in Germany’s benchmark DAX index.
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