Volkswagen: Obsessed with Growth as Sales Decline

2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI

One of the requirements of becoming the best in the world at something is to continually get better than your competition.

Volkswagen would very much like to be the best automaker in the world, and by best, I mean biggest.

Again, being the biggest requires a steady incline in size. Without growth, well, you don’t become the biggest. Rocket science, I know.

Volkswagen’s desire to be the world’s number-one automaker was last mentioned on these pages sometime in 2011. In the years since, how have the Germans come along on their goal?

Not too well, it turns out.

Volkswagen’s April 2014 sales numbers were down a little more than 8 percent from last year. Obviously that’s the wrong direction for growth. We can’t judge, of course, based on just one month, so let’s look at all of 2013.

The New York Times said:

The United States market is crucial to helping Volkswagen achieve its goal to sell 10 million vehicles a year worldwide by 2018, but sales for its Volkswagen brand fell 6.9 percent last year, though the company got a lift from Audi, whose sales rose 13.5 percent.

Volkswagen trails both Toyota and General Motors in the race to become the biggest, but the Germans have something the Japanese and Americans don’t: Audi.

As mentioned above, Audi sales rose in 2013, and April 2014 was its best sales month ever. While VW has struggled the last few years, Audi has exploded and could carry the torch until some new Volkswagens arrive on the market.

That should happen in the next two years as a new Golf family and a new crossover SUV hit the market. VW hopes those vehicles will not only reverse the downward spiral, but stoke enough of a sales fire to finally overtake the number-one spot.

The original goal was to become the world’s biggest automaker by 2018. If that’s going to happen, these new Volkswagens have to absolutely rock and create a demand that Volkswagen hasn’t seen in a good three years.

From the perspective of a consumer, I’d rather the company focus on building high-quality German-engineered cars with a precision driving experience. This obsession with becoming the biggest turns me off, and I’d most likely look elsewhere when it’s time to buy new.

Does it make a difference to you whether or not Volkswagen becomes the world’s number-one automaker?


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