By on December 19, 2009

Winterkorn, sending the wrong signals. Picture courtesy

VW CEO  Martin Winterkorn is a superstitious man. He doesn’t want to add a 13th brand to his (or rather Piech’s) large collection. (Coincidentally, 12 is the number of Piech’s children. More or less. Nobody is quite sure,) “There are some who knock on our door. Some really want to come under our roof as they see we’re on a good path strategically. But we are satisfied with the current line-up,” Winterkorn said to Wirtschaftswoche.  Specifically questioned about Volvo or (gasp) Daimler, Winterkorn answered: „There are many who would like to snuggle in VW’s cozy bed. Thank you, not interested.”  Instead, he’s re-thinking the line-up of his new acquisitions:  “I could imagine a smaller Cayenne derivative. Or a Porsche below the Boxster. This is under discussion.”

As far as synergies with Suzuki go, Winterkorn sees the usual savings when buying parts. (Suppliers, beware the feared Volkswagen-Einkauf.) He can also imagine Kei cars “on the roads of Paris, London, or Bangkok.” What he doesn’t see at all is the rumored Nano-swatter, built by VW & Suzuki: “A Nano is taboo for us. We will never stoop down to a level of a Nano. We have certain standards, for instance when it comes to safety. Suzuki won’t do that either.” Never say never: A low-priced entry model for emerging markets is thinkable for Winterkorn.

Suzuki dealers could also sell VWs. But strictly within the boundaries of racial separation, called Markentrennung at VW: “They have to do that in separate showrooms.”

Winterkorn is looking forward to 2010. He sees a higher market share for VW, especially in the B(R)IC countries. He’s up on the electrification of the car, someday. He’s decidedly down on hydrogen. Reminded that Daimler wants to sell a hydrogen car at the price of a common hybrid by 2015, Winterkorn sneered: “They also had announced production-ready hydrogen cars for 2004.” He doesn’t believe that hydrogen can be made in an environment-friendly way, and he can’t imagine a hydrogen gas station at every corner.

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11 Comments on “Winterkorn: No 13th Brand For VW...”

  • avatar

    A porsche BELOW the Boxter? The Boxter is the entry-level Porsche, replacing the earlier entry level, a used Porsche. Does that comment mean Porsche’s premium sports car reputation goes out the window?
    [BTW, a movie in another post causes my flash app. to run so slowly, it freezes up Firefox.]

    • 0 avatar

      For the Flash issues, install the FlashBlock add-in for Firefox.  It speeds up browsing many sites, not just TTAC: Flash won’t display by default, only after you click on it (or configure that site to always display flash).

  • avatar

    Boxsters typically going for at least $50+K are not entry level for lots of people. I would love to see a modern version of the classic 356, including the occasional rear seats, which would open the market to those of us with kids. A four cylinder engine would be fine. Those concerned about diluting their precious brand by allowing “riff-raff” to buy something affordable (say $35K) with a Porsche badge need to get a life.
    “Small” is not always the compromise that it sometimes appears to be. Slalom racers know that top-time-of-the-day is often taken by the much maligned 914, and depending on the course, the 914 will be faster than the 914-6 because of the earlier availability of torque.

  • avatar

    Ol’ Marty is parsing words: ” “A Nano is taboo for us. We will never stoop down to a level of a Nano. We have certain standards, for instance when it comes to safety. Suzuki won’t do that either.” ”

    What he really means is a Nano is no prestige vehicle for us, no halo car, and we can’t figure out any way to fulfil minimum acceptable standards and make money with such a thing…

    Even trying to make money at the low end of the market, in segments where VW does play, or wishes to play, is problematic … VW was, until recently, feverishly working on an entry level vehicle for initial launch in Cn and Br, then, afterward, Eu … until they found they were over cost (and, unconveniently, looking at a profitless success, if viewed in terms of market share, or profitless and smaller share, if priced to reduce the red-ink on the hood of each unit that they would sell) … that project is apparently on hold (again).

    If VW corp could figure out a way to make a nuevo people’s car, without damaging a brand, and emptying their pockets (either separately, or at the same time), Herr Spaltmass and his frontmen would be in with both feet.

  • avatar

    If Porsche puts a VW turbo-4 in a cheaper mid-engined Porsche then the Porsche brand will be fine, although it will canabalize Boxster sales.  And it will be a pretty bad-ass car.  If Porsche puts a Porsche logo on a Golf, even a really nice AWD turbo Golf, then it is screwed.

  • avatar

    A Porsche below the the Boxster? I think I see where that is going. Suzuki Cappuccino.
    He’s right about Hydrogen too. Good to see some plain speaking, and from the usually Hydrogen obsessed Germans.

  • avatar

    Why don’t they just concentrate on building quality, and reasonble pricing, instead of the shit boxes they’ve been  building for years, that fall apart at 50,000 miles.

  • avatar

    Thanks, th009 ! FlashBlock worked like a charm.
    I don’t know about the Cappuccino. It would feel strange driving a car shorter than the roof ladder in my garage. A kei car Porsche may sell in Europe, but I can’t see 63 hp hauling two lard-butt Americans on a California freeway, or accelerating up the onramp, at least. I had to push my 75 hp 1983 Accord to redline to merge into traffic on most ramps, and it was just me and my golf clubs. I assume they wouldn’t be limited to the kei horsepower limits. Otherwise, I may have to wait for GM to come out with a CuppaJoe.

  • avatar

    I don’t see a lower priced entry level Porsche to be the least bit detrimental to the brand. In fact I think it would quickly become the volume model. It would not cannibalize sales from the Boxster and certainly not any of the other models. As with any Porsche it would be a small volume niche market product. I’m sure there are a number of potential buyers who would like a Porsche but can’t afford the Boxster.

  • avatar

    How do you differentiate a base Boxster with a 265hp flat 6 from an unter-Boxster with the 265hp turbo 4 lifted from Audi’s TT-S? Do you neuter it a little, no LSD, 200hp or 225hp? Is it a 180hp option with exceptional gas mileage to help meet EU (and US) regs. Is it a $10k step down from the Boxster? How do you compete with the 370Z and the like that offer a lot of features you might want to leave out?
    There is something be said about cannibalizing your own sales before someone else does, especially if it leads to moving your other offerings’ performance upwards.  Interesting times.

  • avatar
    Kyle Schellenberg

    Porsche, VW and derivative.

    Aren’t these the three words that cause Porsche purists to want to fall on the sword?

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