Volkswagen plans to grow its U.S. dealer network by 100 outlets. Announced at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the plan follows two years of slumping VW sales and financial losses in the country.
The new dealerships are being planned for areas with a weak Volkswagen presence, providing an outlet for the oncoming barrage of new products from the German automaker. Upcoming VW vehicles include a bevy of (much-needed) crossovers, including an all-new Tiguan compact CUV, all-new midsize and full-size crossovers, the Golf Alltrack, as well as redesigned Jetta and Passat around 2018.
Currently, Volkswagen has 650 dealerships across the United States — a relatively low amount compared to some of big-ticket competitors such as Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, and Nissan. Current dealers are struggling after investing millions of dollars into their stores to help achieve Volkswagen’s 800,000 unit sales target in the U.S. by 2018.
“The U.S. market now is a key focus of the Volkswagen Group,” said Michael Horn, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America and President for the Volkswagen of America brand. “It’s the most important market for us to get our further growth.”
Coinciding with the new dealerships and onslaught of new models will be shorter product lifecycles, with refreshes coming every three years to models, and all-new replacements arriving in five years. Volkswagen is also expanding its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee to include a new engineering and development center that will employ 200 workers. Topping off the strengthened commitment to the U.S. is the announcement that Volkswagen has authorized a committee board to make key decisions locally for the plant.