According to the Financial Times, Volkswagen will soon become the world’s biggest carmaker, probably by the end of this year. If confirmed, the achievement will be attained seven years earlier than what the VW management would have expected: when in 2008 VW’s chief executive Martin Winterkorn announced plans to overtake Toyota by 2018, few people took it seriously as at that time the group was selling 3 millions fewer cars than its Japanese rival, but now that goal is within reach.
Toyota - that held the industry’s top spot for years - is still suffering backlash of the earthquake that hit Japan in March as many of its suppliers are still recovering from the consequences of that tragedy. Obviously, this situation led to a slowdown in the production that - combined with VW’s relentless growth across the world - will allow the German group to become the world’s new number one in the automotive industry in terms of both sales and production.
Leading consultancies JD Power, IHS Automotive and PwC Autofacts forecast that by the end of 2011 VW will have sold 7.8m vehicles (10.5% share of the global market), GM will be second with 7.2m, Renault and Nissan will follow with combined sales of 6.8m, and Toyota will end up in fourth place with 6.7m units sold.
According to AutoWeek.nl, in the coming years Volkswagen will launch a particularly eco-friendly version of the Polo, with hybrid powertrain and plug-in option. As anticipated by VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn in an interview with AutoZeitung, this news is a further confirmation of their commitment to invest heavily in plug-in hybrid sector.
Winterkorn said it is just ‘necessary’ to have at least one plug-in hybrid vehicle on offer, and the VW models that are more likely to debut this type of technology are the Polo and the Golf, with the former that will have to face the competition from Toyota Yaris HSD, the first full-hybrid car in the B-segment.
Noticing that plug-in hybrid vehicles are the ideal mid-term solution to reduce CO2 emission and fuel consumption - until pure electric vehicle technology is sufficiently advanced - Winterkorn took the chance to deny rumors that a Polo-based compact crossover is in the works. The reason why VW rules out any interest in such a product is mainly economic: the kind of investment that the production of a little 4WD SUV variation of the Polo would require is just too big.
via | AutoWeek.nl
Volkswagen AG has replaced Porsche’s CEO, Michael Macht, thereby removing the last of Porsche’s previous management personnel. The new CEO as of October 1st will be Matthias Mueller, product planner at Volkswagen, whose job it will be to revive Porsche sales and contribute to placing VAG in front of Toyota as the world’s number one car manufacturer.
Mueller has come through years of both Audi and more recently, Volkswagen, product development and it will be his role to oversee expansion of the Porsche range. Macht will now move to the role VW production head, similar to the work he had done for ten years at Porsche before becoming CEO.
Mueller may well be seen as the last nail in the Porsche coffin from Martin Winterkorn, who is looking to evolve the Porsche brand. Fans and purists are concerned that Porsche will lose some its tradition in gaining additional market appeal. But we will likely have to judge Porsche fortunes under the Volkswagen group on a case by case basis as new Porsche products are developed and rolled out over the coming years.
At the Los Angeles show in November 2008: central engine, two-seater, coupè or spider and the brand will be Volkswagon on the bonnet. Stupefied? Us too.
The cars that we’re talking about are not the fruit of imagination from some fan who has nothing to do but make wild claims about his favourite brand. The reports come from Martin Winterkorn (president of the Volkswagon group), who is promising the arrival of such a model, adding candidly that “in case of a possible positive response from customers, we could see production in 2011″.
More information on this project has been revealed by Autocar, including that the style will be designed by Walter De’ Silva and managment’s aim is to offer an alternative to the Lotus Elise at a lower price - ambitious stuff.