Vehicles with the Volkswagen badge can be seen all over the world. Though the brand is greatly associated with the original Beetle, it is also known today to offer a diverse range of models. Some like the Golf GTI have a cult status like the Beetle while the Santana has long been a familiar model in China.
However, Volkswagen doesn’t sell every model it has developed in every country. Potential demand is one reason but just like food, regional tastes vary quite significantly. For this reason, the company will develop models specifically for certain markets to closely meet the needs, preferences and expectations of customers.
This is why tourists to China may see lots of Santanas there but not in Singapore or Germany, or anywhere else. The model was sold in Europe in the 1980s but after that became exclusive for the market in China. Likewise, in South America, the Saveiro, Gol and Crossfox are popular models but unknown in Europe and Asia.
Volkswagen intends to offer even more such differences in its product portfolio portfolio. This is in support of a key element of Volkswagen’s ‘Transform 2025+’ strategy to strengthen its business and position in various regions. To implement the strategy, top management in Germany is giving the regions more independence. Going forward, they will hold comprehensive responsibility for their business, including model decision-making.
The most recent market-specific model the Virtus which made its debut in Brazil. It was developed there and is built in the country for the South American region. Though sharing mechanical elements with the latest Polo Sedan, it is designed exclusively to suit the tastes of South American customers. For example, it has sufficient space for 5 adult passengers as well as one of the biggest boot spaces in its class. It is also the first car in South America to feature assistance systems using artificial intelligence to support the driver.
The factory which is now building it was established in 1957 and was the first Volkswagen factory outside Germany. Naturally, it has been upgraded with the latest manufacturing technologies to produce cars efficiently and with high quality. 214 new stamping tools were built and 373 robots were installed in the body shop area. The new industrial facilities were developed under the industry ‘4.0 concept’. It creates intelligent, connected and flexible processes, with productivity as one of the main results.
“We are gearing Volkswagen up for the future and South America has a key role to play,” said Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen brand. He believes there is enormous potential for Volkswagen in the region where the largest markets are Brazil and Argentina. The company will be investing some 1.8 billion euros in Brazil up to 2020 and 20 new models are to be developed there.
The next market-specific product for South America will be a SUV and a pick-up, with decisions on design and equipment are being taken by the local Volkswagen management team. As the Board Member for Sales, Jurgen Stackmann, explained: “Our local colleagues know best what the markets want.”