Volkswagen AG plans to redouble efforts to boost flagging sales in the U.S. as well as grow in Brazil as Europe’s largest automaker chases Toyota Motor Corp.’s global lead.
VW laid the foundation for growth in North and South America with the decision to make a mid-size sport-utility vehicle for the U.S. market, build a new Audi factory in Mexico and revamp its model lineup in Brazil, the Wolfsburg, Germany-based manufacturer said in a statement in advance of the annual shareholders meeting today.
“The Americas are a significant cornerstone of the 2018 strategy,” Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said in the statement from the meeting in Hanover, Germany. “We want to and we must grow there substantially and profitably.”
VW, which overtook General Motors Co. to become the world’s second-biggest carmaker last year, reiterated today that annual deliveries may exceed 10 million vehicles for the first time in 2014, four years earlier than forecast. Plans to introduce 100 new or revamped cars through next year are part of a strategy to overtake Toyota as the global auto-sales leader by 2018.
In the first four months of 2014, the German automaker’s sales rose 6 percent to more than 3.2 million vehicles, a record for the period, the company said today. The growth has been backed chiefly by expansion in China, as its efforts to push into the U.S. market have stalled. The namesake brand’s sales fell 10 percent through April.
Shareholders at the meeting are set to approve raising dividends by 14 percent to 4.06 euros per preferred share, the most widely held form of VW stock, and 4 euros per ordinary share.
The vote is effectively a formality as the Porsche and Piech families control 50.7 percent of VW’s ordinary stock through Porsche Automobil Holding SE, with the German state of Lower Saxony, where the carmaker has its headquarters, owning another 20 percent and the emirate of Qatar 17 percent. The ordinary shares carry all voting rights.
Controlling-family members Hans Michel Piech and Ferdinand Oliver Porsche as well as Qatar Holding LLC CEO Ahmad Al-Sayed are scheduled during the meeting to be reappointed as supervisory board members.