Volkswagen of America is planning to boost its 650-dealer strong retail network in the United States by around 100 new dealerships through 2018 as part of a larger plan to revive its growth in the country. Volkswagen of America chief executive Michael Horn remarked at the Detroit auto show that the carmaker wants to add dealerships in open points where the brand currently lacks a presence.
VW is trying to expand its network at a time it is preparing for product offensive aimed at reversing its two-year sales decline in the US. VW will be introducing a new midsize crossover in the first quarter of 2017 and a redesigned, long-wheelbase Tiguan compact crossover in the second quarter of the same year.
According to Horn, VW will also roll out a redesigned Jetta compact car in late-2017 and a redesigned Passat in 2018. Horn noted that BMW’s growth strategy starts with the product and continues with the dealer network. He remarked that since BMW’s volume is lower, its dealerships are also fewer. He noted that now the SUVs are confirmed, the carmaker could start expanding its dealer network.
Horn outlined a number US initiatives aimed at reviving the VW brand like creating a new high-level board committee that would make more strategic decisions locally as well as a new engineering and development center at its Chattanooga site in Tennessee that will house around 200 engineers working on vehicles for the US.
Other initiatives include shortening the life cycle of VW’s passenger cars -- starting with the redesigned Jetta in 2017 – to allow redesign every five years instead of every seven. Horn quipped that right now, the US is a key focus of the Volkswagen Group, adding that it is the most important market for the carmaker to grow further.