VW US chief aims to subdue dealers over issues in plant

Article by Anita Panait, on February 5, 2014

Michael Horn, the new chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America, held a meeting with the carmaker’s dealers in the United States on January 26 in a bid to keep them calm despite issues such as stair-step bonuses, dropping profits and complex commands from the plant. "A lot of the issues that we struggled with for the last couple years have been addressed,"

Jimmy Ellis, a VW dealer from Atlanta and chairman of the brand's U.S. dealer council, told Automotive News. "I'm confident that as we work over the next few months, those will now be put to bed." While changes would cost Volkswagen some money, they could buy Horn's team the time needed to shift the brand’s marketing tactics in the US and prepare for an expansion of the product lineup starting in 2016.

Horn told Automotive News that they have two key priorities: dealer relations and getting the product ramp-up to get to the next step. He said that Vw already managed to hit 400,000 units, but “we need the next big step."

VW executives have spent the last few years trying to achieve the "Mach 18" goals set by Volkswagen AG CEO Martin Winterkorn, which entailed selling 800,000 VW brand vehicles in the US annually by 2018. In just three years from 2010 to 2012, VW was able to double its sales in the US thanks to the introduction of the Jetta compact sedan, Passat mid-sized sedan and Beetle coupe. [source: automotive news - sub. required]

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