DETROIT -- As the European car market continues to struggle, Volkswagen continues to pin its aggressive growth ambitions in the near-term future on the United States market. With a new plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee and following a year of robust growth in America, Volkswagen said at the Detroit Auto Show on Monday that 2012 will be the year of the company's turnaround in the U.S.
President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America Jonathan Browning told journalists the company will use global resources and a focus on the U.S. is a global (company) priority.
Volkswagen claimed a 12.5 percent global marketshare in 2011, and sales in the U.S. were up 26 percent. Last year at the auto show the company unveiled the new Passat, being built at the new Chattanooga manufacturing plant, the company's first in the U.S. The Passat was a finalist for the 2012 North American Car of the Year Award at the auto show, but Hyundai's Elantra claimed the honor Monday.
Still, the Passat was named Motor Trend's Car of the Year, and the company has big hopes for the car, part of what Volkswagen AG president Martin Winterkorn called the company's product offensive.
We need to be a top player in the U.S., Winterkorn said. He said the Passat is poised to be a real blockbuster.
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By combining German engineering with an eco-friendly mantra the company hopes to establish Volkswagen as a larger part of the American car culture in 2012. Part of that initiative means more new products for the so-called offensive, and Volkswagen revealed the new Jetta Hybrid the company hopes will help achieve that goal.
The Jetta Hybrid had its world premiere in Detroit Monday, said by the company to be one of the most efficient automobiles in the world. The new Jetta Hybrid goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than nine seconds, the company said, and can travel 44 miles per hour with zero emissions in pure electric mode -- achieved with one click of a button.
The Jetta Hybrid will go on sale in November 2012, the company said.
Volkswagen also revealed its new e-Bugster electric vehicle concept car at the 2012 North American International Auto Show. Based on the company's popular Beetle, the e-Bugster concept car has a 114 horsepower electric motor and a range of 100 miles per charge on a lithium ion battery.