Winterkorn: No 13th Brand For VW
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.
Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.
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