VW Wants To Be World’s Largest Auto Maker

Today I understood, yet again, that I am truly a minority.  For the most part, I am always fine with that distinction.  

For instance, when it comes to automobiles I love German engineering and the styling of Volkswagens.  In the past decade I have owned only VW’s, and swear I am never driving domestic again.  There just is no comparison with comfort, under the hood precision, lack of problems once purchased, or price for the whole package.    Driving on the roads alerts me to the fact I am  not in the majority as a car owner, but it was not until today that I discovered just how out of the mainstream I am.

In the all-important U.S., the VW brand clings to just 2.2% of the market, trailing even Korean upstart Kia.

With news that VW has a business plan in place to take over as the world’s largest auto maker comes a concern from guys like me who like to be just a little unique in everything, including the cars we own.

“A lot of people worry that we are going to start making VWs for the masses,” says Mark Barnes, VW’s U.S. chief operating officer. “I like to say we’re going to bring the masses to VW.”

Time will tell.

The retooled compact sedan marks the first time VW engineers have designed a model specifically for the U.S.

Next year, a new family-size sedan is scheduled to roll off the assembly lines at a newly built $1 billion plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. It is VW’s first U.S.-made car since the 1980s. On its heels comes a revamped New Beetle.

 To get there, VW has to prove that it is capable of producing cars with mass-market appeal, something no European auto brand has achieved in the U.S. in recent decades. It is seeking a tricky balance: preserving the whimsical aesthetic and German engineering expertise that has won it a core base of Volkswagen loyalists, while broadening its appeal to mainstream drivers of more generic but trusted rides from the likes of Toyota and Honda Motor Co.

“I don’t need VW to make another Toyota Camry clone,” says Matthew Kleczewski, a 33-year-old information-technology specialist in Pewaukee, Wis. He says he bought his 2008 VW Rabbit hatchback for its taut handling and attention to small engineering details, such as rear windshield wipers that automatically start if he reverses while the front wipers are on. If VW wants to tout its German engineering, it should bring to America more of what it sells to European drivers, not less, he says.

And I agree!

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