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Volkswagen Aims to Sell Over 500,000 Cars in U.S. in 2012

Jonathan Browning of Volkswagen
Jonathan Browning, chief executive officer of Volkswagen's U.S. unit. Photographer: Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg

Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen AG, Europe’s largest carmaker, targets growth of more than 10 percent in the U.S. this year as part of a plan to become the world’s biggest automaker by 2018.

The VW group aims to sell more than 500,000 cars in 2012 from 444,192 vehicles last year, Jonathan Browning, head of the U.S. unit, said today at a briefing with reporters in New York. The company expects its U.S. sales operation to be profitable for the second consecutive year in 2012, he added.

“We see continued recovery in the U.S. but at a slightly slower than we would have said a year ago,” Browning said.

Volkswagen, which opened a $1 billion factory in May in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last earned a profit in the country in 2003. VW is keen to turn around its U.S. business as part of the Wolfsburg, Germany-based manufacturer’s goal of surpassing General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. in deliveries.

Volkswagen expects to reach full production of 150,000 cars annually at its U.S. plant in 2013, helping the company make a profit that year in the U.S. including the plant’s operational costs, the carmaker said today.

The U.S. car market will rise to 13.5 million to 14 million vehicles, Browning said. The carmaker doesn’t expect sales to return to the “somewhat inflated” levels in 2007 prior to the financial crisis.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Reiter in New York via the Berlin newsroom at creiter2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net

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