Through October, VW brand sales are up 24 percent over last year and will top 300,000 for the first time since 2003. Executives say the automaker is on target to reach 800,000 sales in 2018.
While that much-discussed 2018 objective represents a huge jump from today's volume, Tim Mahoney, VW's new chief marketing officer, sees how it can be done.
Mahoney predicted the redesigned Jetta routinely will top 150,000 annual sales in the coming years, with the Passat close behind and the Tiguan in the 120,000-plus unit range.
Through October, VW has sold 150,046 Jettas, up 52 percent from last year and on course to be an all-time high for the Jetta in the United States. VW had sold fewer than 22,000 Tiguans through October and about 10,000 Passats, which VW has just begun producing in Chattanooga.
"Pretty quickly, we're up to 400,000 to 600,000 units," says Mahoney. "Then you add the Beetle, which is an emotional product, and cars like the CC, Golf R, GTI and Touareg to round out the image in styling and performance. And there are other segments we're evaluating. This is not an insurmountable goal. We're going to grow, grow profitably, and sustainably."
John Mendel, American Honda's executive vice president of sales, said he worries as much about Volkswagen as he does about high-flying Hyundai and Kia.
"VW does things globally very well," said Mendel, who was an MBA classmate of Browning at Duke University. "They've been inconsistently represented in the U.S., but now they have a real presence and plan. To take nothing away from rise of Hyundai and Kia, there is a real chance we're going to be talking about the rise of VW very soon. They are going to be a contender."