It was 11.09am on a hot Perth morning at the VW drive day, my palms were sweaty and my heart was pounding, I was facing my first ever slalom time trial and I was nervous. As it turns out I posted an average speed and my trial went off without incident but that was just an aside. In the time waiting for my run at the course I had learned just how exciting VW and its future really is.
In the past few years VW has been growing its market share, slowly and quietly, in almost every market on this spinning ball we call earth. Their plan for the number one spot in global sales by 2018 is ambitious but not altogether unrealistic. The 2010 global figures (from the OICA) show them resting just below the recently embattled top two of Toyota and GM. Currently they need to sell an additional annual 1.3 million vehicles to pass them (as of year end 2010). This is a massive ask, especially when you consider the current state of the global economy.
From the very outset it was clear that Volkswagen was committed to showing us vehicle features above all else. Many of the fun elements of the day reinforced this theme such as backwards driving displaying the accuracy of the reverse cam, vehicle pursuit showing the new adaptive cruise control and off road vehicles boasting the sharp off road ABS system. Vehicle presentations throughout the day provided us with even more in depth details on various VW model features. By the time I started the time trial it was clear that the organisation was intent on winning the publics confidence, and equally the number one spot by simply offering more car per dollar.
With Detroit and GM still going through a very difficult period and Toyota expecting delivery delays as a result of the natural disasters in the Asia region, it could lay the groundwork for a solid few years for VW. What’s most likely is that they will at least close in on number 1 by achieving marginal sales growth and continuing investment, as their rivals stand relatively still. With solid sales in both China and Brazil (but not so hot in India) they look like a reasonable bet at this stage, however in the current global environment nothing whatsoever can be taken for granted.