Historically, Volkswagen has given the U.S.A. much more attention than their sales deserve. The U.S. are considered key to VW reaching their goal of becoming Nummer Eins auf der Welt (I’m sure Herr Schmitt will correct my German – he sure did.). Trouble is, their US head, Stefan Jacoby, deserted to left to work for Volvo and Geely. This means they needed to find someone new. And they may have just done that.
Bloomberg reports that on today VW will announce that Jonathan Browning, a former GM executive will be named head of VW’s US unit, said ” said a person with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified before an official release.” Naturally, VW declined to officially comment. The post of head of VW America will be a very challenging one. Not only is there the pressure from Wolfsburg to make US sales top 1 million a year (good luck on that,) but there’s also the launch of the new Jetta, a car which is considered key to VW America’s sales, and the building, opening and running of VW’s new flagship plant in Tennessee. Quite a lot of work to be done there. So, what do we know about Mr Browning?
Browning had been hired by VW in June to improve coordination of the carmaker’s international sales companies – a challenging job. Jonathan Browning worked for GM since 2001 (and before between 1981 and 1997) as vice president of global sales, service and marketing. Three areas in which GM was weak. And what did he do between 1997 and 2001? He was at Ford, as Managing Director of Jaguar. Oh dear. I hope the Chinese division stays strong.
PS: And just this minute, Volkswagen announced in Wolfsburg that “Jonathan Browning (51) has been named President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America effective October 1, 2010.”
Two interesting statements:
- “The USA will always be one of the largest and most important markets for automobiles,” Christian Klingler commented, adding that this offered the Volkswagen Group significant growth opportunities.
- “The Board Member for Sales reiterated the target to sell 200,000 Audi brand models and 800,000 Volkswagen brand models in 2018.”
To reach that goal, Volkswagen needs a Browning. Maybe even a BAR.