Volkswagen To Invest $7bn In North America

Volkswagen has announced it plans to make a sport utility vehicle for the North American market and will invest $7bn (£4.25bn) in the region as it looks to increase sales.

Europe's largest car manufacturer is aiming to sell one million Volkswagen and Audi vehicles a year in the US by 2018.

The company said the move was a sign of renewed commitment to the market after a sales decline by its core VW brand, which continues to achieve low US quality scores.

Chief executive Martin Winterkorn, speaking on the eve of the North American Auto Show in Detroit, said: "The Volkswagen brand is and remains at the heart of our product strategy here."

The $7bn will be spent over five years as part of investment plans announced by the company, based in Wolfsburg, Germany.

VW said the new seven-seater SUV would be launched in 2016.

Volkswagen's Phaeton sedan, the brand's luxury model, will also return to the US market in the same year, Mr Winterkorn said.

In 2013, Volkswagen Group - which also owns Porsche, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Skoda and Seat - sold 600,000 cars in North America.

But the company last month ousted US chief Jonathan Browning and replaced him with after-sales specialist Michael Horn after the VW brand's sales fell 7%.

The carmaker must improve "the speed at which we bring new models to the market and innovation to the market", Mr Horn said on Sunday.

"We have already been improving."

As part of a product offensive, Audi also plans to launch the A3 compact and Q3 compact sports utility in North America this year.

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