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Volkswagen won’t be number one here

Onslaught: Volkswagen Australia's new model barrage will continue with the addition of the Jetta in August.

VW stops short of predicting Oz sales domination as 2011 model mania hits halfway

Volkswagen logo28 Jul 2011

VOLKSWAGEN’S audacious plan to become the world’s number one auto-maker by 2018 will not be emulated in Australia because it no longer builds cars here.

Speaking at a media function to mark the halfway mark of a new-model onslaught that will see no fewer than 12 new or facelifted models launched here this year, Volkswagen Group Australia managing director Anke Koeckler said Europe’s largest car-maker has no plans to defeat Toyota as Australia’s top-selling brand.

“Every country has been asked to contribute to the common goal and we will play a significant part in the growth strategy,” she said.

“But every nation has a different target, depending on the structure in that market. Right now Australia has local manufacturers and they have a big portion (of sales) and Hyundai is also growing.

“Right now we are number nine or 10 – and even number eight in the last two months – but believe me I’m not looking at the pecking order but sustainable growth of about 10 per cent every year,” said Ms Koeckler, who will soon extend her three-year posting as Australian VW chief by a further two years.

Toyota has been Australia’s number-one vehicle brand since 2003, when its wrested market leadership from Holden with 186,370 sales a 21.1 per cent market share.

 center imageRecently-introduced Volkswagen models: Passat, Amarok, Touareg, Golf BlueMotion and Eos.

However, reflecting it global demise in the wake of earthquake-related stock issues that will see General Motors reclaim worldwide sales dominance from Toyota this year, the Japanese giant’s Australian share has slumped to just 17.2 per cent on the back of 85,128 sales in the first half of 2011 – 20.8 per cent down on 2010 figures.

While Toyota’s Australian share and sales have declined from a high of 23.6 per cent and 238,983 in 2008 – the year after Australians bought a record number of 1.05 million vehicles – local Volkswagen sales have lifted by 6.2 per cent in a market that is down 6.6 per cent so far this year.

Volkswagen ceased manufacturing in Australia in 1976 after producing 260,055 Beetles in a production run that began in 1954, but local sales have increased consistently from a recent low of 15,782 in 2005, when VW held a slim 1.9 per cent share of the market.

Since then, Australian VW sales have grown to 21,571 in 2006 for a 2.2 per cent share, 27,400 in 2007 (2.6 per cent), 29,875 in 2008 (3.0 per cent), 30,087 in 2009 (3.2 per cent) and some 38,016 last year, when VWs accounted for 3.7 per cent of all new vehicles sold here.

This year, however, VW has already sold a record 20,505 vehicles to overtake Honda (16,353) and Subaru (18,654) and snare a 4.1 per cent market share (5.3 per cent in June) – despite the run-out and limited supply of a number of key models – making anything up to 50,000 sales possible for VW Australia in 2011.

Already this year Volkswagen has launched the all-new Amarok dual-cab utility, new Passat sedan and wagon, the additional Golf BlueMotion variant, facelifted Eos coupe-convertible, 4Motion versions of the Caddy van and new Touareg luxury SUV, plus Skoda’s facelifted and DSG-equipped Scout.

Volkswagen has a long way to go to catch the likes of Mitsubishi (31,486 sales year-to-date), Nissan (33,973), Hyundai (42,978), Mazda (43,796), Ford (45,224) and Holden (62,570) – let alone Toyota.

But still to come this year are a redesigned Jetta medium sedan, the limited-run Golf 35 Edition, facelifted Tiguan compact SUV and new Golf Cabrio, plus Skoda’s all-new Yeti compact SUV and Fabia light car.

Apart from receiving more consistent supplies of the Polo, Golf, Jetta, Passat, Tiguan, Touareg and Amarok, VW next year will “emotionalise the brand” by releasing its image-leading Scirocco R coupe in early 2012, as well as its new-entry Up micro-car, redesigned Beetle and both volume-selling automatic and single-cab Amarok derivatives in the second half.

Volkswagen will not reveal its internal sales targets, but says it expects a “significant” increase in 2011 and will support the rapid-fire rollout of new models and annual sales growth of at least 10 per cent by expanding its national retail network from a current 83 dealers to almost 90 by the end of this year.

VW’s Australian network has already increased by 15 per cent from 70 dealers when Ms Koeckler took the reigns two years ago, and will increase by a further 25 per cent over the next two years to more than 100.

By 2018, VW expects to have at least 120 Australian outlets, while Skoda’s network will grow from 22 to more than 35.

Many of VW’s additional dealers will be established in rural areas in Queensland and West Australia to service demand for the Amarok, which has been supply constrained since it was launched in February due to global demand and is now the subject of a fleet sales push including mining companies.

VW has ruled out a local release for CNG and LPG versions of the Golf, but said the upgraded Tiguan due in October will be another “volume pillar” for the brand here.

At the same time, VW is relocating its head office from Homebush to Chullora in western Sydney, where it will expand its staff levels by 25 per cent this year.

Last week some 230 truckloads of parts were transferred to VW’s new multi-million-dollar warehouse, before the company’s administration and training offices are relocated in December.

“I am happy with our sales and market share and we are quite confident we are on the right path to achieve significant market share,” said Ms Koeckler.

“But we are not getting excited yet. Toyota and others have had big supply shortages and we must ensure our dealers are investing in service, because it is the second and third car a customer buys that will give us growth.

“We are not running at full volume, but next year when we have full availability we expect a big jump.”What’s coming from Volkswagen:

New Jetta sedan – August
Golf 35 Edition – September
Facelifted Tiguan – October
New Golf Cabrio - November

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