Volkswagen AG forecast sales worldwide will increase 5% this year, after reporting record deliveries in 2010, fuelled largely by growth in China and other so called emerging economies. It sold 7.14 million vehicles including cars and SUVs last year, with VW group sales in December alone reaching 545,400 units.
The VW Golf and Audi’s Q5 SUV were among last year’s best selling group models and Volkswagen is counting on further growth in Brazil, Russia, India and China, along with momentum in the USA to narrow the gap in the North American market with Toyota. To give that aim a boost, it will open a plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee by April 2011 and has a declared goal of surpassing Toyota in sales and profitability by 2018.
Contrary to what you might expect, VW expects growth in China, the world’s largest car market, to weaken this year, despite that fact that sales in China surged 37% to a record 1.92 million vehicles in 2010. Volkswagen AG CEO Martin Winterkorn reckons that global auto sales may increase to as many as 63 million units this year from 59 million in 2010. If that’s true, then other peripheral suppliers to the auto industry will also be pleased, including those providers of short term car insurance products as many more customers get involved in test drives. Porsche may also be considering production in North America or China as part of a plan to double its annual global sales to 200,000 units. The current German assembly plants in Zuffenhausen, near Stuttgart, and Leipzig, are considered too small for Porsche to reach that ambitious target. Porsche could also build its forthcoming Cajun SUV in China in a Volkswagen factory that builds the closely related Audi Q5.
Set to be launched by 2014, this baby SUV is one of the key models in Porsche’s expansion plans. Building Porsches in North America or China would not prove a problem for the brand as in the past they’ve outsourced Boxster production to contract manufacturers in Finland. As long as they can maintain that the cars are “engineered by Porsche”, the brand integrity, they insist, will be maintained. I’m not sure if a “Chinese Porsche” would be the same though!