Volkswagen Group's annual global sales have risen 55 percent to 9.73 million vehicles in the last five years, putting the company on track to reach its 10-million-unit sales target this year. VW isn't slowing down. Marketing Vice President Simon Thomas says Europe's largest automaker remains determined to keep improving how it launches vehicles and how it uses the massive amount of analytical data it gathers. The British executive, who started his current job last September after two years as VW Group's UK boss following 20 years with Nissan, gave his first interview in his new post to Automotive News Europe Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc in Wolfsburg.
Does an automaker know within a few months of a launch whether a car will be a success?
You get a good idea from the customer order intake and the Internet reaction. So yes, you probably have a reasonably good feel within a few months, but I wouldn’t say it’s foolproof. Cars do continue to surprise and over-perform. The main challenge is to ensure that the business KPIs [key performance indicators] are set early enough for the planning and activation to be linked to those KPIs. We have a robust approach to setting those KPIs and it’s important for us to create them early and also cross-functionally.