CHATTANOOGA -- Volkswagen executives broke from convention while debating the name of the midsize VW crossover launching in the U.S. next year: They let the North American team pick it.
Normally, a committee in Germany would have decided on a single global name starting with "T," following the pattern of the Tiguan and Touareg crossovers before it, says Hinrich Woebcken, CEO of VW's recently formed Volkswagen North America region. Instead, Woebcken says the new crossover, crucial to VW's post-scandal recovery hopes, will have a "bullish, much easier to pronounce, American-style name" unique to the market.
He wouldn't give away the name, but he strongly hinted it wouldn't start with "T."
To Woebcken, it's a signal that headquarters is serious about giving its operation here more room to run amid VW's broad effort to chart a recovery path in the U.S.
"Two or three years ago, it would've been a no-go that the region decides an individual name," Woebcken said. "This is already an early sign that Wolfsburg is willing to let go."
It's not the first time VW executives have pledged to revive the U.S. operation with more resources and autonomy. Different this time, Woebcken says, are the tools available through the North American structure.
As head of the VW brand's now-consolidated North American operations, Woebcken oversees purchasing, engineering, product development, manufacturing, sales and marketing. Never before have all those functions been under one unit and executive in North America.