Monday, July 10, 2006

Volkswagen of America Posts Six Months of Solid Sales

Text from Volkswagen of America.
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Volkswagen of America, Inc., today announced brand sales through June were up 20 percent over the same time period last year, supporting the company’s overall solid sales and marketing performance for the first half of the year.

Strong January through June sales of the all-new Jetta, Passat and GTI, and the restyled New Beetle contributed to Volkswagen’s favorable showing. The all-new 2006 Jetta sedan grew its sales volume by 37.9 percent over the same period last year and the award-winning, newly redesigned Passat showed a 70 percent increase. The all-new GTI and New Beetle coupe also contributed to Volkswagen’s strong performance, with sales up 51.5 percent and 30.8 percent, respectively.

Growth in Volkswagen vehicle sales during the first half of 2006 reflect product success, and a positive comparison with 2005 when volumes were lower due to transitions in the model range. As volume gained momentum in the latter half of 2005, with launching new models increasing showroom traffic, Volkswagen anticipates double digit year-over-year growth when year end sales are tallied.

“Volkswagen of America is in a process of change, a clear path forward – milestoned in product development. It’s about finding the balance between the affordable entry level and the aspirational,” said Executive Vice President Adrian Hallmark.

Volkwagen is revitalizing its sales and marketing strategy by renewing its focus on a value-added entry- and mid-level vehicle selection, led by the return of the Rabbit and the launch of the Passat wagon, GTI and the segment-redefining Eos.

“With the return of the legendary Rabbit, it’s now more affordable than ever to experience Volkswagen’s precision German engineering,” Hallmark said. “And the $27,990 base price of the Eos breaks the barriers to entry in the hardtop convertible segment. Today, more than ever, Volkswagen’s product lineup is true to its definition as a ‘people’s car’.”

Industry studies validate Volkswagen’s momentum, honoring the brand for its leading- edge safety and design and overall value and satisfaction. The 2006 Passat recently earned a “Double Best Pick” designation for outstanding performance in front and side tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and earned the top rating in every individual measurement category (head protection, injuries and structural design) for both the side impact and frontal tests. The Passat also ranked top in its class in AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Awards, in which owners credit the car’s interior design, use of high touch materials and European driving dynamics as contributing factors in their overall satisfaction. Additionally, Kelley Blue Book named the Passat among the top ten best redesigned cars for 2006.

The highly acclaimed all-new GTI earned the distinction “Top Sporty Car Under $25,000” by Consumer Reports, and the Jetta and Touareg are both recognized as “Best Buys” by Consumers Digest. The 2006 Jetta and Rabbit were named a “Top Safety Pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Just recently, Strategic Vision, Inc. released the findings of its 2006 Total Quality Study, in which it noted that Volkswagen showed the most improvement in quality over last year, and named Volkswagen the “Best Full-Line Corporation” for quality standards. In addition, Volkswagen’s new look is resonating with buyers. Of the 37 brands featured in the J.D. Power and Associates’ 2006 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, Volkswagen is the most improved, jumping to fourteenth from twenty-ninth in last year’s study. The 11th annual APEAL study, measures “owner delight” with the design, content, layout and performance of their recently acquired vehicles.

Volkswagen remains committed to introducing technological advancements that move the industry forward. Volkswagen is the leading seller of diesel powered passenger cars in the U.S., with diesel models accounting for 14.9 percent of total year-to-date sales.

In another industry-leading innovation, the highly refined Touareg’s new engines offer exceptional torque and brute power. The standard V6 engine provides 240 horsepower at 6,000 revolutions per minute and an impressive 229 lbs-ft of pulling power at 3,200 rpm. The enhanced V8 engine provides 310 hp at 6,200 rpm and 302 lbs-ft at 3,000 rpm, while the clean diesel V10 TDI provides 310 hp at 3,750 rpm and 553 lbs-ft at 2,000 rpm. The use of clean diesel fuel reduces emissions of sulfur compounds and allows for the use of advanced emission control systems. The 2006 Touareg V10 TDI is compliant in all fifty states, and is the first light duty vehicle in the U.S. to include a particulate filter that further reduces emissions, while consuming up to 30 percent less fuel than traditional gasoline engines. Earlier this month, three Touareg V10 TDI vehicles participated in the 84th running of the Pikes Peak Invitational Hill Climb. Except for required safety devices and tires, the vehicles were completely stock and unmodified. Finishing 1-2-3 in the Luxury SUV exhibition class, the Touareg team posted a best time of 14:08 besting many purpose-built race vehicles.

Earlier this year, at the North American International Auto Show, Volkswagen signed an agreement with DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group to develop and produce a new van for the North American market. The minivan will be presented under the Volkswagen brand, allowing the company to reach a new segment of the market.

To complement its reinvigorated product lineup, Volkswagen kicked off the year partnering with Miami-based advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky. The all-new GTI launch was the first campaign from the new agency partnership, encouraging consumers to ‘make friends with their FAST’ and introduced Wolfgang and Helga –– the German engineers who encouraged drivers of competitive pimped out brands to “un-pimp your auto” and discover the joys of the GTI that’s “pre-tuned in Deutschland”. Volkswagen’s advertising has generated sales results, consumer enthusiasm –– and awards –– for the brand. At the recent Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, Volkswagen was honored for its creative excellence and took home four prestigious awards in the sales/promotion and cyber categories. Following the February GTI launch, other well publicized campaigns for the Jetta, Passat and all-new Rabbit followed during the first six months of the year.

Understanding that Volkswagen is more than a car – it’s a way of life – Volkswagen has appointed MWW Group as its lifestyle and entertainment public relations agency of record. Involvement in key social and entertainment venues such as the Bonnaroo Music Festival, the Teva Mountain Games and the Sundance Film Festival reinforce Volkswagen’s commitment to emerging artists, and the active lifestyles of its owners.

Volkswagen has maintained a significant presence at owner gatherings, covering a diverse spectrum of events, from the eighth annual national gathering of New Beetle fanatics in Roswell, New Mexico to hosting the Michigan Volkswagen Enthusiasts’ “MotorStadt” in our Auburn Hills, Michigan employee parking lot.

“Volkswagen is a brand with deep connections to its customers,” explained Hallmark. “We’re playing on the momentum of the first half of the year, and the enthusiasm of our customers, as we continue to rev up our product offerings.”

Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is one of the world’s largest producers of passenger cars and Europe’s largest automaker. Volkswagen sells the Rabbit, New Beetle, New Beetle convertible, Jetta, GTI, GLI, Passat, Passat Wagon, Touareg and Phaeton through more than 600 independent U.S. dealers.

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