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Volkswagen chief: No. 1 in the world by 2018

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 00:00:00 -0700

Volkswagen chairman Martin Winterkorn reaffirmed his company's ambitious and audacious goals on Wednesday night on the eve of the Paris motor show: pass Toyota and General Motors for the title of world's largest automaker in 2018.

Winterkorn was the final speaker after an event that featured unveilings from each of the German conglomerate's brands. He said his company wants to record total sales of 10 million in eight years, which would vault it pass the current levels of global leaders Toyota and GM.

Still, Winterkorn suggested caution in VW's goals, intimating sales are merely a means to an end.

“Size will be the welcome result--but it it's not the objective of our actions,” he told a crowd estimated at 1,470 media members from around the world.

GM had held the title of world's largest automaker since the 1930s before ceding it in 2008 in the runup to its historic bankruptcy filing. Toyota, however, has seen its growth stymied by recall and safety issues. Ford has also seen its domestic sales increase thanks to fresh products and renewed marketing.

Meanwhile, VW faces challenges in the U.S. market, where it remains a marginal player. It is launching the updated Jetta and Tiguan this year. It's also finishing a new plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., which is scheduled to open in 2011.

By Greg Migliore