VW Targets US Market for Toyota Battle

19 October 2007

WOLFSBURG, Germany: Europe's biggest automaker, Volkswagen, is taking the sales fight with Japanese rival Toyota to US territory, news that will unsettle American car manufacturers already struggling to shift vehicles from domestic dealer lots.

VW wants to sell around one million cars in the US by 2018, compared with around 330,000 last year.

Ceo Martin Winterkorn says the company's tactics will center on aggressive pricing and reducing the features on vehicles for the US market, where drivers will be happy to pay less for fewer gizmos.

He says: "We have definitely added too many technical items that [American] customers don't want to pay for."

And he believes that by adapting the company's brands to US preferences, VW could offer future versions of its Jetta and Passat for less than the current price.

The Jetta starts at about $17,000 (€11.9k; £8.3k) in the US, while the Passat costs around $23,900. Toyota's comparable Corolla is priced circa $15,200, while the larger Camry starts at about $20,000.

In addition, VW is mulling the building of a new plant in the US - the first for more than twenty years - to reduce the costs of importing vehicles.

Adds Winterkorn: "We want to illustrate that we take the US seriously."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff