United States market remains a mystery to Volkswagen AG

Article by Anita Panait, on November 8, 2013

Volkswagen AG's push to become the largest carmaker in the world by 2018 is facing a big hurdle as the German carmaker has yet to crack the mindset of customers in the United States, which is considered as one of the biggest markets in the world. “We understand Europe, we understand China and we understand Brazil, but we only understand the U.S to a certain degree so far,” VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech told Bloomberg News.

Volkswagen definitely has managed to become the third largest carmaker in the world thanks to its rapid growth in China and Brazil, but the German company still cannot capture a sizeable market share in the US. Its case in the US is really difficult to crack, as American carmakers continue to dominate their own turf.

Toyota has succeeded to penetrate the US with its Camry sedan, still the best-selling car in the country. But Ford's Fusion is grabbing some share from Camry while GM's Chevrolet Impala was lauded by Consumer Reports as the best sedan on the market. Volkswagen tried to solve the US puzzle by making the VW Passat bigger and cheaper to appeal to mainstream American drivers.

But the Passat failed to even get into the Top 20 models in the US. The German carmaker was even the best-selling foreign carmaker in the US, until Toyota overtook it in 1975.

While some of the German carmaker's models like the Beetle and Microbus have become icons in the American pop culture -- from Disney’s “Herbie the Love Bug” and Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” to “Little Miss Sunshine” and the TV show “Lost” -- the fact remains Volkswagen still has to further penetrate the US market and transform that into lots of sales.

Topics: united states, vw

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