VW Sets Target Of 8 Million Cars

German automaker aims to sell 8 million cars a year by 2011 and introduce 20 more models in a bid to expand its market share in Asia, Europe and North America.

WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) โ€” Volkswagen AG aims to sell 8 million cars a year by 2011 and will introduce 20 more models โ€” including vans, pickups and sport utility vehicles โ€” in a bid to expand its market share in Asia, Europe and North America.
 
The company is also looking at building a new plant in the United States that could produce between 100,000 and 150,000 cars per year.
 
Chief executive Martin Winterkorn announced the goal Thursday. Europe's biggest automaker by sales has said it sold 6.2 million cars in 2007 โ€” helping to push up revenue nearly 4 percent to euro108.9 billion (US$168.5 billion) from euro104.8 billion in 2006.
 
''We want to deliver 8 million group vehicles to our customers by 2011,'' Winterkorn said at a news conference, adding that the company, whose brands include Audi, Skoda, Seat, Lamborghini and Bentley, will make a renewed effort to increase market share.
 
''We will be tailoring our vehicles precisely to regional customer requirements,'' he said. He added that Volkswagen hopes to reach 1 million cars sold in the U.S. by 2018 compared to the 329,000 it sold in 2007.
 
Board member Jochem Heizmann said Volkswagen's board would decide this summer whether to build a new production plant in the U.S., but did not say where it may be located or what models might be built there.
 
Once any decision is made, he said, it would take two to three years before production started.
 
He said the strength of the euro, which hit a record US$1.5625 on Thursday, underlined the need to produce more cars in the dollar area.
 
''That's why we are currently examining in detail various options to develop additional production capacity,'' he said.
 
Volkswagen shares were down 1.3 percent to euro153.57 (US$237.68) โ€” part of a wider decline on Frankfurt's DAX index, which was down nearly 2.5 percent on renewed worries about the global credit crisis.
 
Winterkorn made clear he was optimistic about the effects of Porsche Automobil Holding SE's plan to take a majority stake in his company.
 
''We look forward to even closer cooperation soon,'' he said, without elaborating. He said Volkswagen's deal last week to take a majority stake in Swedish truck maker Scania AB also offered more opportunities.
 
In addition, Volkswagen is the biggest shareholder in MAN AG, holding a 29.9 percent stake. The Munich-based truck maker itself holds 17 percent of Scania, effectively giving Volkswagen 85 percent of the Sodertalje-based company.
 
''For Scania, this is an historic step toward a clear, long-term shareholder structure. We are committed to Scania and the Scania team,'' Winterkorn said. ''Together, we will harness our market opportunities even more effectively.''
 
He did not say whether Volkswagen would pursue a merger of MAN and Scania.
 
Winterkorn said the core VW brand expects to sell 6.6 million cars by 2018 compared to the 3.6 million VWs sold in 2007. Those increased sales helped the brand's operating profit rise to euro1.9 billion (US$2.9 billion) in 2007 from euro918 million the previous year.
 
The company's other brands also posted increases, chief financial officer Hans Dieter Poetsch said. Audi AG reported a 32-percent increase in operating profit to euro2.7 billion (US$4.2 billion) while Skoda had a 38 percent increase in annual operating profit to euro712 million (US$1.1 billion).
 
Volkswagen's commercial vehicles unit more than doubled its operating profit to euro305 million (US$472 million) while SEAT, the Spanish car maker, had operating earnings of euro8 million (US$12.4 million) last year, compared to a loss of euro159 million in 2006.
 
Luxury unit Bentley increased its operating profit by 13 percent to euro155 million (US$240 million).
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