Volkswagen on US comeback trail with new Jetta

Volkswagen on US comeback trail with new Jetta
Volkswagen wants to move on from the emissions scandal that has tarnished its reputation.

detroit - German carmaker looks to move on from emissions scandal that has tarnished its reputation

Published: Mon 15 Jan 2018, 6:05 PM

Volkswagen launched an all-new Jetta compact car, its biggest seller in America, at the Detroit Auto Show on Sunday as the German carmaker looks to revive sales in the world's second-largest auto market and move on from the emissions scandal that has tarnished its reputation over the past few years.

The world's largest automaker is still grappling with investigations and lawsuits around the world related to revelations that it cheated government emissions tests for diesel-powered vehicles and has already paid $30 billion in fines and costs for the fraud.

But there are signs the company is repairing the damage with consumers. Volkswagen brand sales worldwide rose to a record of more than six million cars in 2017, two company sources told Reuters ahead of publication of the data on Sunday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

"Some of our critics thought the diesel crisis would block our view. Instead we have, undeterred by the crisis or rather fired by it, developed our digitisation and electrification strategy," Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, a member of VW's executive board, told reporters on December 11.

In the United States, VW brand sales rose 5.2 per cent in 2017, even as US consumers turned away from smaller cars that are still the brand's mainstay.

"We're back," Hinrich Woebcken, the new head of the Volkswagen brand in North America, told reporters on the sidelines of the Los Angeles auto show in November.

Spurred by a perception that the authoritarian culture at VW had been a factor in the cheating, top management has also loosened the reins on the VW empire and decentralised power from its Wolfsburg, Germany headquarters.

For example, German native Woebcken said US managers concluded that the original name for an SUV the company planned to launch in America would not work.

The original name "started with a T, and then it broke your tongue," Woebcken said. US Volkswagen executives proposed a simpler name for the US market - Atlas. Wolfsburg management went along. The Atlas, launched from VW's Tennessee factory last year, accounted for nearly eight per cent of VW brand sales in the US last year. - Reuters

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