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For VW, the Path to Global Dominance Leads Through China

As Volkswagen AG plots a course toward its goal of becoming the world’s biggest automaker by 2018, it’s increasingly clear that the path to global dominance runs through places like Lanzhou, in western China.

The capital of landlocked Gansu province, which borders the Gobi Desert, is home to a total of 11 dealerships for VW and its sister brands, Audi and Skoda. With a population of 3.6 million, and GDP per capita of about $4,100, Lanzhou is the type of smaller city away from China’s prosperous east coast that VW is targeting in its next phase of expansion.