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Inside autos: What is VW thinking?

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Inside autos: What is VW thinking?

Free Press staff and news services

Is Volkswagen out of its mind? The world's third-biggest car company, revving up a plan to become the very biggest on the planet, will tell you absolutely not. Bases covered.

But consider: VW wants to be the world's biggest by 2018, knocking off Toyota and General Motors, both of which have acknowledged that their super size has hurt more than helped in many ways. VW wants to fuel its global growth by tripling sales in the U.S. even though key products have yet to prove themselves.

Indeed, the Tennessee factory that will build one of those core models -- a replacement for the VW Passat midsize sedan -- won't open until next year, and the new midsize will be the first car it's ever built.

The German automaker also is counting on what would have to be an almost magic popularity jolt for its Tiguan small crossover that competes with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Each now outsells Tiguan about 8-to-1.

Meanwhile, VW says it might reintroduce in the U.S. the VW Phaeton, an $85,000 luxury VW that previously failed here.

There's more, but even if you ignore it all, you have to wonder what the German car company is thinking as it plunges into an aggressive plan to triple its size. The plan includes more than tripling U.S. annual sales from about 300,000 the past couple of years to 1 million VWs and Audis flying out of showrooms in 2018.

Read more: Inside autos: What is VW thinking? | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20100905/BUSINESS01/9050425/1210/BUSINESS01/Inside-autos-What-is-VW-thinking?#ixzz0ylbkiaYP

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