In 2007, when Martin Winterkorn took over as CEO of Volkswagen, he said that Volkswagen wants to be better than Toyota, not just in units, but in profitability, innovation, customer satisfaction, everything. This morphed into the “Strategie 2018”, which called for world domination no later than what the name says. Today, Volkswagen changed its mind. Declaring an early victory, it wants to move on.
They have been together for a while. Behemoth Volkswagen and tiny, but bigger than life Porsche shared technologies and booths at auto shows, Volkswagen generals are in key positions at Porsche. Fitting the German Zeitgeist, they lived together without being formally married. This will be rectified in a few weeks.
A few months ago, Volkswagen’s 2018 goal of world domination was in gripping distance. In a record run, and helped by tsunamis and floods, Volkswagen had finished 2011 as world’s second largest automaker after GM and before Toyota. Overtaking GM was seen as a matter of short time. Six months later, the advantage is slipping away. A visibly rattled Volkswagen now musters all energy to stay in the race.
Despite still not having been amalgamated into the sprawling Volkswagen empire (blame the lawyers,) Porsche wants to do its share for Volkswagen’s all-out assault to the top. According to Strategie 2018, sorry, make that according to “Mach 18,” the Volkswagen empire wants to be on top in all respects before the decade ends. A small sports car company with barely 100,000 units won’t bring much volume, but they will try as much as they can. “Porsche aims to double its annual U.S. sales within seven years by dramatically expanding its product lineup — while maintaining its U.S. dealer body at almost the same size,” Automotive News Europe [sub] reports.
Porsche won’t even shy away from the unthinkable – like bringing diesels to America.
When Martin Winterkorn took over as CEO of Volkswagen, he said that Volkswagen wants to be better than Toyota, not just in units, but in profitability, innovation, customer satisfaction, everything. Toyota was the declared enemy of VW. Toyota was bigger, made more money, had happier customers. When Winterkorn declared the lofty goal, it was shrugged off. Incoming CEOs routinely make grand announcements which nobody really takes seriously. The year was 2007, Volkswagen had just become #3 in the world. Toyota was #2, leading VW by more than 2m units sold worldwide. Towering above all was GM, with 9.3m units sold, 800,000 more than Toyota.
A little after the quote above, first rumors about a “Strategy 2018” surfaced. The plan wasn’t public. I knew someone at VW who had seen (but wasn’t given) the strategy, and he confirmed that it said that Volkswagen wanted to overwhelm Toyota – in 10 years. Insiders (this reporter included) rolled their eyes and denounced the plan as the usual hubris of an incoming CEO, a suit who’d be busy collecting his pension by the time 2018 rolled around. I was wrong.
Volkswagen has grand plans for the U.S.A. Volkswagen wants to “increase sales and market share in 2010.” Ok, who doesn’t. Now, for the delusions of grandeur part: By 2018, Volkswagen wants to more than triple annual car sales in the U.S. to 1 million a year, with Audi accounting for 200,000 sales, reports the Wall Street Journal. Seen any flying pigs lately?
Why 2018? By 2018, Volkswagen wants to rule the world, and trounce Toyota in unit sales, profitability, customer satisfaction, innovation, and most likely size and quantity of cup-holders also.
Everybody in the company has to do his or her share for the grand plan.
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