VW US boss Michael Horn says changing mindset of HQ vital to success

Article by Anita Panait, on January 20, 2014

Michael Horn, the newly named chief executive officer and president of Volkswagen Group of America, is confident that he knows how to achieve success in North America – changing the mindset of the German headquarters. "We need to push more. Not here, but in Wolfsburg," Horn said, referring to the home base of parent Volkswagen AG.

"It's about how to translate the American market in Wolfsburg,” Horn said, noting the headquarters need to listen to US demands depends, which could be partly achieved by having a strong network inside the company.

"There are formal organizations and there are informal organizations," remarked Horn. VW recently disclosed that it will introduce a mid-sized sports utility vehicle tailored for consumers in the United States, with an aim of improving the sales of its namesake brand in the country.

VW said it is sticking to its target of boosting combined annual US sales volume of its namesake brand and the Audi premium marque to 1 million by 2018, spending $7 billion in the North America in the next five years in the process. Unlike the Audi and Porsche nameplates, the volume VW brand did not gain in the US in 2013.

In fact, VW brand’s US sales dropped 7 percent to 407,704 cars and SUVs, with demand falling 23 percent in December. That represents just half of the 800,000 annual sales targeted for the market by 2018.  Horn said that Volkswagen is mulling rolling out a long-wheelbase version of its Tiguan compact SUV since US customers are seeking three rows of seats rather than only two. [source: Reuters]

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