Volkswagen thinks its sixth-generation Golf will arrive in the US at the perfect time and expects it to beat the sales of the current model despite the markets overall weakness.
It is precisely North America where the new Golf has better opportunities than ever, said Volkswagen brand development chief Ulrich Hackenberg. [Driven by rising fuel prices] purchasing patterns there have changed more sharply over the last few months than in previous years. Compact cars, where Volkswagen has always been out front, are in demand.
Hackenberg said the company aims to sell 40,000 Golfs a year in North America, where the car is badged as the Rabbit and the GTI, in 2010 and 2011. That would be slightly better than current combined sales for the models.
In 2008, Rabbit sales in the US were off 21.1 percent from a year earlier to 20,070 units. Sales of the GTI model and the limited-edition, high-performance R32 version were down 6.5 percent to 15,338 units from a year earlier.
Production of the new car for the North American market is set to start this summer at VWs plant in Wolfsburg. The first models should reach showrooms there in September.
VW will offer US buyers a choice of a 140hp TDI clean diesel or a 170hp, 2.5-liter gasoline engine. The range-topping GTI model is powered by the 200hp TSI gasoline engine.