AT THE PARIS auto show, Volkswagen introduced the low-end Lupo, the mid-range Bora and the Audi TT. It showed Italdesign's Bugatti concept car, talked about a VW-brand luxury sedan and discussed plans for Lamborghini. It is working on everything from an Audi minicar to a new Bentley.
Whew! Is Volkswagen's reach exceeding its grasp?
Robert Buechelhofer, VW's head of sales and marketing, said the group intends to be in every segment, with nearly every brand. But no company has unlimited management and engineering resources. Common platforms makes product proliferation easier, but not easy.
Over-extension may have led to Daimler-Benz's problems with the Smart and A-class. There are already worrying signs at VW. The bungled purchase of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars from Vickers plc and the troubled Golf launch suggest a system without proper checks and balances.
German archrival Adam Opel has suffered from over-extension. Engineers in Ruesselsheim have been wrung out by the demands of General Motors' globalization. The same could happen to VW.
Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech is a driving, dynamic executive and VW is a great company. But every automaker has its breaking point.