Volkswagen eyes strong 2012 despite EU crisis
Auto giant Volkswagen expects to power ahead this year through the inroads it has made in diversifying its markets, with "impressive" deliveries recorded for early 2012 despite a crisis in Europe.
“Europe will certainly be watched in a very critical way,” said Volkswagen chairman Martin Winterkorn.
“But more southern European countries,” he said, adding that despite weakness in VW’s home continent, the group will “try to achieve 2011 results” this year.
The group more than doubled its profit to a record 15.4 billion euros ($20 billion) last year, while sales jumped by 25.5 percent to 159.3 billion euros.
Already for the first two months of the year, deliveries have been “impressive” said Winterkorn.
February deliveries were up 17.7 percent to 399,700 while the total for the first two months of the year topped 800,000 for the first time, reaching 818,800. That is 8.0 percent up from January and February 2011.
Crucially, VW appeared to be making strong inroads in the massive Chinese market, with vehicles delivered to China and Hong Kong soaring 66 percent to 31,352 in February, marking the first time it crossed the 30,000 barrier.
It is precisely emerging markets such as China, India and Russia that the group is banking on to make up for the weakness in the European market.
The United States was also starting to deliver some results, even though its venture there had not been without pain in previous years.
In 1987, the group had to close its first US factory when sales sunk amid intense Japanese competition. It reopened a site in Tennessee only in 2011.
With 8.3 million vehicles sold last year, the group is currently trailing General Motors, which moved 9.03 million vehicles in the same period.
But the Wolfsburg based group also hopes its 10 brands and efficiencies could help it to unseat GM as the world’s number one by 2018.
VW has also been using common parts, such as the chassis, across different brands, thereby achieving major cost savings. Forty models — from the city car up! to the 4×4 Tiguan are built on the same module.
With a wide range of brands from the mid-range eponymous marque to the higher range Audi to luxury ones like Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini, the group also dabbles in trucks through its MAN and Scania labels.
At the Geneva Motor Show, the group premiered several new vehicles, including the Audi A3 and the Volkswagen Cross Coupe with TDI plug-in hybrid which it claimed to be the “most efficient SUV in the world.”
It also rolled out Bugatti’s fastest Roadster and a new luxury Bentley.
“We have a clear strategy for VW,” said Winterkorn.