The Truth About Cars » Browning The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 19 Jul 2014 17:00:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Browning Volkswagen’s America Chief: This Country Needs To Get Its House In Order Thu, 04 Oct 2012 14:33:41 +0000  


According to VW USA’s CEO Jonathan Browning, America is missing out on huge investments and new jobs due to our “rising debt and political discord.” In 1999, the U.S. did attract 41 percent of all global foreign direct investment. Now, the number is less than 20 percent. The money is going to places like China where Volkswagen has 12 plants and three more on the way, while there is only one in the U.S. Browning is talking in code about several facts of post-bailout automotive life.

1) Union Trouble

Volkswagen is the last major automaker to build a new plant in the US. The UAW has been targeting it for organization since it opened for business. Neither VW nor its workers want the UAW around, even its German unions want to keep the UAW away, and yet the UAW pushes on. The result: Audi production that was supposed to be added to Chattanooga is going to Mexico. Still, the UAW has continued to push for unionization at Chattanooga, even into this year.

2.) Protectionism

Largely prodded by labor unions, the Obama administration has embarked on a world trade war. This war is financed out of the pockets of consumers, it has not added a single job, and prevented many from being created. OEMs favor Mexico over the U.S., also because Mexico has trade pacts with major export markets, the U.S. has not. The pandering to union interests costs jobs and kills exports.

3) CAFE/EV Credits

Whereas GM’s DC Rep has cheerfully admitted that, for some strange reason, the latest round of CAFE negotiations were notable for their unprecedented cordiality and pulling-togetherishness, Volkswagen has been openly unhappy with the new rules, accusing them of being unfair, favoring truck makers (read: Detroit) and not technology neutral.

Interestingly, VW’s reasonable quibbles with environmental policy in both the US and Europe have earned it a long campaign of attacks from Greenpeace. Nobody has been able to explain why VW has been targeted by Greenpeace, as there’s no objective environmental reason for doing so. Conspiracy theories, anyone?

Upshot: Not only is VW not going to bring new Audi production to the US, it won’t build its next-generation Golf here either… both are going to Mexico. And this isn’t just a business decision: they say capacity in Chattanooga is “exhausted,” but it absolutely is not. I’ve been there, I’ve seen it, they have room to add entire new lines there. No way would they rather use their ancient Puebla plant rather than their shiny-gleaming new Chattanooga plant, all things being equal.

The business climate must be very rotten if a country embroiled in a shooting war with heavily armed gangs and sometimes rogue military elements is favored over a country that used to be proud of its enterprise spirit. The armed gangs seem to scare investors less than union thugs with friends in high places.

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VW Pulls A Browning Mon, 13 Sep 2010 15:35:04 +0000

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.

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