The sporty new Golf R joins VW's U.S. line-up for 2012.
With a goal of more than doubling sales – to 800,000 a year – by 2018, Volkswagen officials are rapidly ramping up the maker’s U.S. line-up and expect to have several new offerings roll into dealer showrooms over the next few years, including a 7-passenger SUV and possibly a production version of the popular Bulli microvan concept.
But the maker’s secret weapon may be its increasing reliance on diesel powertrains, which are gaining converts at a rapid rate. Facing the prospect of tough new fuel economy regulations, Volkswagen is betting on the latest generation of oil-burners — though it will also be rolling out an array of electrified offerings, including hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles, the maker’s top U.S. executive told TheDetroitBureau.com.
“Our challenge is to dig deeper” and come up with new products “appropriate for the U.S. market,” explained Jonathan Browning, the British automotive veteran who signed on as CEO of the Volkswagen Group of America last year.
The good news, he suggested, is that there is a deep well of product available within the global VW portfolio. Even better, the long-ignored U.S. subsidiary is now high on the radar screen in Wolfsburg, which sees a strong presence in the States as essential to Volkswagen’s global ambitions. By 2018 the maker intends to be selling 10 million vehicles annually worldwide, a target that could position it as a serious challenger to both Toyota – the global leader for the last several years – and General Motors, which is expected to regain the sales crown this year.