For Volkswagen AG to reach its goal of being the world's largest automaker by 2018, Christian Klingler will have to boost the 10-brand group's annual sales by more than 3 million vehicles compared with 2010. That's a 43 percent increase. Is VW Group's sales and marketing boss worried? Hardly. Klingler, 42, even sees a chance of getting to 10 million sales before 2018. Klingler, who joined VW in 2010 after spending most of his career at Porsche Holding, Europe's largest dealer group, talked about VW's goals in an interview with Automotive News Europe Editor Harald Hamprecht.
VW's giant task
Christian Klingler must boost VW Group's unit sales more than 40% in the next 7 years
Last year, the global car market came to 58.4 million vehicles. Between now and 2018, we expect significant growth. Brazil, Russia, India and China will grow disproportionately. But even established markets such as the U.S. will recover. We likewise expect growth in this market.
Europe will take part in the global growth to a small degree – despite a stable trend in core markets such as Germany. On the other hand, countries such as France and Spain will experience a decline in new registrations, mostly due to the pull-forward effect of scrapping incentives. In the UK, a 2 percent tax increase is added to that.
You know we want to be the global market leader by 2018 in sales as. In 2011, we want to grow at least as vigorously as the market. In 2009, our global market share was 11.2 percent. We were able to continue growing in 2010. Last year, we sold 7.14 million vehicles – an increase of nearly 14 percent compared with the previous year. Our goal for 2018 is more than 10 million.
I admit that the goal today seems more achievable than it did before. You can't rule out that we would reach it earlier. We are on a reasonable path of growth. But our list of objectives primarily involves qualitative goals: satisfied customers, the best employees, satisfied employees, good profitability and earnings quality.
China is a growth locomotive for the entire industry. We see a great deal of potential in China in the middle and long term, too. That's why we are expanding our local production capacity to about 3 million vehicles by 2013-2014.
As you can see in the financial results, our management system works tremendously well.
We are the auto company that manages the most brands across the entire spectrum very successfully. And it's important for our highly ambitious goals to have each individual brand make its contribution. Without exception. The trends indicate that the VW, Audi, Skoda brands will naturally make a fairly large contribution to sales growth.
Seat is well on the way to its turnaround. The slump in its home market is naturally not conducive to this. But for the first time in 20 years, Seat is again the market leader in Spain. We will set more priorities and put the brand on a path to success on a sustained basis.
In sales and marketing, four emphases have crystallized. First: a further professionalization of our processes. Second: We want to make clear progress in partnership with our dealer network. Third: We want to continue to sharpen our brand profiles. Fourth: We have adapted our overall leadership model to our challenges. To meet our goals, we need the best sales and marketing team in the world. We have revitalized our team with some external talent and now are very international with members from France, China, Italy, England and the Czech Republic.
In China, we want to double the number of our VW locations to about 2,000 over the next five years. The figure will be 2,500 for all our brands [in China]. We are also planning major growth in Brazil, India and Russia. We also see further need in the U.S. In some established markets such as Germany, however, we need consolidation.
We will deliver a variety of attractive new products globally, like the Golf Cabrio or the new Audi Q3. And, naturally, the New Small Family, one of the main vehicle projects in the group.
The pipeline is full to the brim with many exciting ideas. You can assume we will press vigorously ahead with our model offensive.
As a group, about 52 billion euros over the next five years, plus 10.6 billion in China. We thus have the necessary financial means and a highly motivated team to deal with the challenges ahead in the best possible way.
In the first phase, we want to increase the throughput per dealer. In the second phase, we will also expand the number of dealers. In addition, we need a push toward professionalization in the dealer network in the U.S. There has already been intensive work in this area.
The Up and the New Beetle, which are both coming out at the end of the year.
We continually look at what products we will take into individual markets. Everything depends on what the customers want and demand. Currently, the Golf compact is our smallest model in the U.S. and the Polo subcompact in China.
The New Beetle will make a completely special contribution to the emotional appeal of the Volkswagen brand. In its first generation, it may be that the [first-generation] New Beetle wasn't all that successful in Europe. Its price and its engine offerings were not entirely ideal for Europe. On the other hand, the situation was totally different in the U.S. The New Beetle hit like a bomb. Now we want to write a new success story for Volkswagen.
About 18 months ago, we started working with the dealer association on a step-by-step process of adjusting the size of the network to real market conditions.