VW American dream: U.S. built Passat

Jonathan you recently took over the top

seat at VW and clearly this is a brand

that's a powerhouse in Europe a

powerhouse in China Brazil but when it

comes to the United States it is not

where it wants to be what's your

strategy for winning in the US well what

you see here today is a great vision of

the tangible changes that we're making

for our us because this is a market

that's very important to us it's really

the second or the first most important

market globally whether you look at

China first u.s. second it's one of the

key markets and its market that we

absolutely need to succeed in and so

Volkswagen took the decision

interestingly during the recession to

commit four billion dollars worth of

investment 1 billion in terms of a new

plant 3 billion in terms of products

infrastructure to really move the needle

in terms of our presence in the US

market and you're spending a billion

dollars on a plant in Tennessee to

manufacture the new Passat being

unveiled today here at the detroit auto

show how would you compare manufacturing

in the United States to manufacturing in

Germany you know the u.s. is a great

place to manufacture there's a lot of

infrastructure a lot of capabilities in

terms of the engineering the process

control and in Tennessee we found a lot

of very capable people to actually be

part of the operations there and build

up our plant so we very pleased the way

the plant has come together the way the

processes are evolving and now we've got

this tremendous news of launching the

Passat today which really brings

affordable German engineering to that

midsize sedan segment for the first time

in the US so we think it's going to have

a great reception what does this

investment in US manufacturing and

really in trying to meet the sales goals

that you've said that are very lofty for

the United States what does that mean in

terms of hiring here well in the plant

itself we're in the process of hiring

2,000 people directly in the plan

independent assessments have also

identified that in the supplier base the

broader community will be another 10,000

jobs added on top of that so we see

around 12,000 jobs is really the impact

in terms of the direct consequences for

the US economy looking at VW sales goals

the goal is to sell a million vehicles

in you in the US by 2018 800,000 VW

brand 200,000 Audi's even some analysts

say that's a very lofty goal a huge jump

from where you are now and thus you

would become the world's biggest

automaker how are you going to hit those

sales numbers well we've set a very

strong vision for what we want to see as

the future of the Volkswagen Group

around the world and that means we want

to become the most successful company

it's not just about sales it's also

about customer satisfaction it's about

employee satisfaction it's about return

on the financial side of the business as

well so it's a very broad set of goals

in terms of what we want to achieve by

2018 the US market is a very different

market than elsewhere in the world

americans love their trucks they love

their suvs until gas gets to four

dollars then they don't then they go

back they're fickle consumers when it

comes to what kind of automobile they

want you worked at 40 spent years at

Ford and years at General Motors so what

did working at those two US automakers

teach you about this critical market

well you know I think it helps me to

understand what are the specifics about

the u.s. customer and the way the US

customer behaves compared to other

customers around the world well the u.s.

customer loves to shop for and purchase

a vehicle very quickly sometimes even

within the same day so in the u.s. you

have to be much quicker much more

focused you have to respond to quit

customers more quickly customers in the

u.s. use social media much more much

more engaged and so you have to engage

with them in the

medium that they want to be spoken to an

engaged in a dialogue with so US

marketplace is very transparent

competition is very intense and you have

to react very quickly and those are the

things that we're bringing to Volkswagen

in America you have to look at the broad

picture obviously