Volkswagen mulls launching commercial vehicles in U.S.
By Andreas Cremer
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) may launch commercial vehicles in the United States in future, as part of steps to expand its core namesake brand in the world's No. 2 auto market.
Commercial pickup trucks and vans such as VW's box-type Caddy model "certainly represent an opportunity" for the United States, Jonathan Browning, chief executive of VW Group of America told Reuters late on Tuesday at the Frankfurt auto show, referring to the success of Ford's (F.N: Quote) Transit Connect van.
"There are preliminary discussions (with VW's Wolfsburg-based management) but no definitive plans at the moment," Browning said in an interview.
Europe's largest carmaker currently sells models of its high-end Audi and Porsche divisions, the ultra-luxury Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini nameplates and the VW passenger-car brand in the United States.
VW is seeking to boost its presence in the United States, eyeing 800,000 VW-brand and 200,000 Audi-brand sales by 2018, when it aims to surpass Toyota (7203.T: Quote) and General Motors (GM.N: Quote) to become the world's No. 1 automaker.
Still, Browning made clear that rather than adding to VW's offerings in the United States, the company would for now focus on maximizing the potential of volume-boosting models including the Jetta compact sedan, the Passat mid-size sedan and the Tiguan compact SUV.
"The immediate future is making the most of the vehicles we have plus the CrossBlue B-SUV," Browning said, referring to a seven-seat concept car VW presented at the Shanghai auto show this year.
He added that a decision on whether or not to build the CrossBlue would be taken by the end of this year.
Launching commercial vehicles "would be a second phase" of the brand's U.S. expansion, he said.
(Editing by Mark Potter)
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