In advance of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) that began today, Volkswagen AG (NASDAQOTH: VLKAY ) announced that it plans to invest more than $7 billion in North America over the next five years as it pushes toward its goal of selling more than 1 million cars per year in the U.S. from its Volkswagen and Audi brands by 2018.
Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG, also said in a press release that the company would confirm that it is bringing a mid-sized seven-seat SUV to the American market, and the developmental work has already begun. Volkswagen noted the plan to launch the vehicle was scheduled for 2016.
In addition to the launch of the SUV, Winterkorn highlighted that the "made in North America" Volkswagen Golf is also expected to boost sales. This is attributable to its North American production and new efficient features including, "the latest generation of our TSI and Clean Diesel engines as well as electric drive and plug-in hybrid technology." Production for the Golf will begin in Puebla, Mexico, tomorrow and it is expected the car will be brought to market by the summer.
Just last week Volkswagen announced it had grown its 2013 sales to 9.7 million vehicles, which represented a nearly 5% increase over the 9.3 million it delivered in 2012. Growth was slower in the United States, where deliveries grew from 596,000 in 2012 to 612,000 in 2013. Winterkorn did note this amount was more double than what it sold in 2008, and said "the Volkswagen Group was now also a force to be reckoned with on the key U.S. market."
"We want many more American drivers to feel at home with our Group brands and are working to achieve that with one hundred percent commitment and plenty of passion," concluded Winterkorn.