While Volkswagen, the Wolfsburg, Germany-based automaker has now risen to the top to become the third-largest automaker in the world thanks in part to great timing in expansion in Brazil and China, the market in the U.S. remained a riddle for the biggest carmaker in Europe.
Finding a way to make the German automaker more than a niche player in the U.S. market is critical to it achieving its goal of being the largest automaker in the world by 2018.
Ferdinand Piech, the Chairman at VW, said the company understood Europe, Brazil and China, but not the U.S. to an equal degree. Piech made his comments in Vienna at an auto event this month.
The lack of overall progress in the second largest auto market in the world has been frustrating for the German automaker, which was the leader for foreign automakers in sales in the U.S. until it was surpassed in 1975 by Toyota.
The Volkswagen Microbus and Beetle are both icons, etched into the popular culture of America thanks to Herbie the Love Bug by Disney and Alice’s Restaurant from Arlo Guthrie to Lost the TV show.
The comments made by Piech are somewhat of a change from the usual confidence of the company about meeting its goal by 2018 to be the leader globally in both sales and profits.
VW is being outspent in its advertising by over two times to one and has been slow in plugging gaps in its line of vehicles. The German carmaker is now at risk of missing is sales target of 2018 by nearly 33%. The Audi and VW brands combined might continue to lose market share during October, according to analysts in the industry.
VW’s redesigned Passat has been embraced by Motor Trend, which praised its cornering and body, among traits of being a near perfect sedan for the family.
The Passat has helped nearly double VW’s sales in the U.S. thanks to a popular commercial on television that features a Darth Vader dressed boy. Nevertheless, growth in sales is flagging.
Through the end of September, the brand said deliveries had fallen by 2.6% percent as fewer people in the U.S. purchased Golfs and Jettas even as the demand industry wide grew by 8.1%.