Volkswagen will spend more than $3.3 billion on the development and production of new models in North America from 2018 to 2020, as reported by Dow Jones Newswires, with the company announcing its latest plans at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
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Some $1.2 billion of the planned investments are destined for the United States. Speaking during a press conference at the auto show on Sunday, chief executive of VW’s North America business Hinrich Woebcken said: “We want to gain market share and grow from a niche player to a truly relevant brand in the United States.”
The company also unveiled a new, completely redesigned Jetta, which will play a pivotal role in the company’s push to do more business in the U.S. Dr. Herbert Diess, chairman of the board of management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand noted during a press conference on Monday that the Jetta has long been VW’s best-selling vehicle in the U.S.
The new Jetta, with different styling, performance and technology will be available in the second quarter of 2018, and will have a starting price of $18,545, according to Diess.
Volkswagen is increasing its efforts in the U.S. at a time that the American consumer is shunning car sales in exchange for SUVs and pickup trucks.
Data from the Wall Street Journal Markets Data Group showed that in 2017, car sales dropped in all classes, significantly, year-over-year. Car sales fell by 10.9% in 2017 versus 2016. Light duty truck sales increased by 4.3% and SUV/crossover sales increased by 6%.
A Volkswagen spokesperson told FOX Business that they “are not ignoring the shift toward SUVs, and that they are very much increasing their SUV presence and launched two new SUVs in 2018, the Atlas and Tiguan.”
“While SUVs are on the rise the compact segment is one of the largest in the market. We have sold 3.2 million Jettas in the United States and last year it was our best selling model. Therefore it remains an important vehicle in our lineup with many dedicated buyers,” the spokesperson said.
Volkswagen is working hard for redemption following the company’s diesel-emissions cheating scandal, called “dieselgate.” Volkswagen had a record year in 2017 – its best performance ever in history, according to Diess, with 6.23 million vehicles delivered. According to Reuters, Volkswagen has already paid $30 billion in fines related to dieselgate.
Volkswagen did not return FOX Business’ request for comment by the time this article was published.