WOLFSBURG -- Volkswagen hopes to reach a final settlement with U.S. authorities over the automaker's diesel-emissions scandal next month so that it can get moving on a recovery plan that will include the launch of new crossover and electric vehicles, the brand's global sales chief, Juergen Stackmann, said.
VW aims to expand its EV offerings in the U.S. to meet a growing demand for green cars and help restore its image, Stackmann said. "A final agreement with U.S. authorities would certainly provide relief and, at the same time, give the go-ahead to look and plan ahead," he said on Thursday.
VW reached an outline agreement with the U.S. authorities last month to buy back or fix about a half million manipulated diesel cars and set up environmental and consumer compensation funds but a final deal must be reached by June 21.
Analysts have said VW faces a doubly difficult problem in trying to make headway in the U.S. as even before the scandal it was seen as notoriously slow to refresh models and catch up with new market trends.
The VW brand's current U.S. product lineup is heavy on compact cars and midsize sedans at a time when consumers favor SUVs in various sizes.
VW will launch a new, three-row midsize SUV and a re-designed Tiguan compact crossover next year, assuming that recalls and buybacks of tainted diesel models have won back the trust of the market, Stackmann said.
Offense, not defense
"We are not working on a defensive strategy for the United States but what we want to achieve in North America is not only to gain a foothold but to grow again," the executive said.
Following the SUV campaign which next year will also feature a bigger next-generation version of the Touareg model, VW is planning an all-new family of electric cars based on its new MEB modular platform.
Experts believe a rush of new products combined with a brand image campaign will drive VW's recovery in the U.S.
After falling 11 percent to 310,227 cars this year VW-branded car sales in the U.S. may bounce back to 404,958 cars in 2017 and rising to 490,906 in 2022, according to market research firm IHS Automotive.
Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said: "Dieselgate and the long search for technical fixes have left their mark on VW in the U.S. but Americans will leave that behind very quickly."