Europe's largest automaker reiterated its goal of selling 1 million
Volkswagen and upscale Audi vehicles annually in the United States
by 2018 as it launches more locally made cars.
The company said the move was a sign of renewed commitment to the
market after a sales decline by its core VW brand, which continues
to achieve low U.S. quality scores.
"The Volkswagen brand is and remains at the heart of our product
strategy here," CEO Martin Winterkorn told reporters in Detroit on
the eve of the North American Auto Show.
The $7 billion is to be spent over five years as part of investment
plans previously announced at a global level by the Wolfsburg,
Germany-based group. VW said the new seven-seater SUV would be
launched in 2016.
Winterkorn declined to say whether the new vehicle would be
assembled at VW's Chattanooga, Tennessee plant or in Mexico, where
production of the Golf compact begins next week.
Volkswagen's Phaeton sedan, the brand's luxury flagship, will also
return to the U.S. market in 2016, he said.
In 2013, Volkswagen Group, which also owns the Porsche, Bugatti,
Lamborghini, Skoda and Seat marques, sold 600,000 cars in North
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But the company last month ousted U.S. chief Jonathan Browning and
replaced him with after-sales specialist Michael Horn after the VW
brand's sales fell 7 percent.
The carmaker must improve "the speed at which we bring new models to
the market and innovation to the market", Horn told Reuters on
Sunday. "We have already been improving."
As part of a product offensive, Audi also plans to launch the A3
compact and Q3 compact sports utility in North America this year.
(Editing by Leslie Adler and Matt
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