VW's Piech says automaker may add a 13th brand

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FRANKFURT (Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech indicated that the automaker plans to add at least one brand to the current lineup as part of a strategy to claim the industry's top spot by 2018.

Piech said in an interview with German monthly magazine ADAC Motorwelt that his children 10 years from now will drive one of the automaker's "at least 13 brands."

VW currently has 12 marques comprising eight passenger car nameplates, a light commercial-vehicle unit, two heavy-truck makers and one motorbike brand.

Piech did not say how the carmaker might add any additional brands.

The automaker is looking at starting a budget brand for emerging markets and a decision could be made on that this year, VW said last month at the Detroit auto show.

Piech and other Volkswagen executives have also voiced interest in buying Fiat's Alfa Romeo, which Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne reiterated last week isn't for sale. Piech described Alfa Romeo as a "cult brand" in the ADAC Motorwelt interview.

Volkswagen has been on a shopping spree in recent years. The most recent additions to its stable were German truckmaker MAN, Italian motorbike producer Ducati and sports-car brand Porsche.

Volkswagen's net liquidity fell 57 percent to 9.22 billion euros ($12.5 billion) at the end of the third quarter 2012 due to spending for the acquisitions.

VW tried to establish deeper ties with Suzuki Motor Corp., taking a 19.9 percent stake in the Japanese automaker in 2009 for about 1.7 billion euros. The talks collapsed and a lawsuit at a London arbitration court is now pending because Suzuki wants VW to return the shares it bought.

VW CEO Martin Winterkorn said in August that the automaker for now has enough work on its hands leading the divisions it already owns.

VW representatives declined to comment.

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