Volkswagen AG Chairman Ferdinand Piech indicated Europe’s largest automaker plans to add at least one brand to the current lineup as part of a strategy to claim the industry’s top spot by 2018.
Piech said in an interview with German monthly magazine ADAC Motorwelt that his children 10 years from now will drive one of the automaker’s “at least 13 brands.” VW currently has 12 marques. VW representatives declined to comment.
The Wolfsburg, Germany-based company for now has enough work on its hands leading the divisions it already owns, Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said in August. VW has eight passenger car nameplates, a light commercial-vehicle unit, two heavy-truck makers and one motorbike brand.
Piech did not say how the carmaker might add any additional nameplates. The automaker is looking at starting a budget brand for emerging markets and a decision could be made on that this year, VW said last month at the Detroit auto show.
Volkswagen has been on a shopping spree in recent years. The most recent additions to its stable were German truckmaker MAN SE, Italian motorbike producer Ducati SpA and sports-car brand Porsche AG. Volkswagen’s net liquidity fell 57 percent to 9.22 billion euros ($12.5 billion) at the end of the third quarter 2012 due to spending for the acquisitions.
Piech and other Volkswagen executives have also voiced interest in buying Fiat SpA’s Alfa Romeo, which Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne reiterated last week isn’t for sale. Piech described Alfa Romeo as a “cult brand” in the ADAC Motorwelt interview.
VW tried to establish deeper ties with Suzuki Motor Corp., taking a 19.9 percent stake in the Japanese automaker in 2009 for about 1.7 billion euros. The talks collapsed and a lawsuit at a London arbitration court is now pending because Suzuki wants VW to return the shares it bought.