New Volkswagen Boss Wants More Fun GTI Models

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From the same man who brought you the Cadillac CTS-V wagon.

Volkswagen recently announced Johan de Nysschen as its new Chief Operating Officer following his previous stint at Cadillac. de Nysschen has worked with VW and Audi in the past and he says "I'm delighted to be back with the family." CarBuzz had the chance to sit in on a Business Update roundtable with de Nysschen where we could ask questions about the company's future plans in North America.

The conversation eventually turned towards enthusiast vehicles, so we asked if VW has any plans to introduce more GTI-badged models in the future. "It's a little bit of a chicken and egg thing because as we move to localization, to also get more cost-competitive - I will tell you that to source from Europe, it's an expensive place - localization only gets more cost-competitive if you have economies of scale and volume," de Nysschen explained. "That also means taking out as much cost and introducing as much efficiency as you can. And that leads you then to come and stand in front of the altar of reducing complexity."

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Essentially, de Nysschen is giving us some insight into how much it costs VW to put a new engine into an existing model. "Each time you want to integrate a new engine to the existing platform... 20 million bucks," he said. "Between the crash test integration, the software work, homologation... and on and on."

"I think we are now at the point where I would like to examine since this is now landing on my desk, also looking beyond just the pure, financially driven business case requirements, but also look at this idea of generating economic values to raising brand appeal," de Nysschen continued. We want to "[win] over the hearts and minds and enthusiasts who are opinion leaders in their own circle of associates."

"People who are car nuts to be drawn to those more aspirational models," said de Nysschen. "And if you have them in your portfolio, ultimately, you raise the brand appeal, and arguably generate pricing power across your whole portfolio. And well, the business case, single model, may not always work to generate high-performance derivatives. But when you apply it to the total mix, I make the argument that it makes sense."

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This means VW could finally expand the GTI nameplate beyond the Golf GTI in the US. "No, it does not mean that you have a high-performance version of every model line," he said. "But I think we can take the GTI and GLI concept and expand."

When asked if the R lineup could also expand, de Nysschen said, "I think it's premature to make that specific goal yet, whether it's an R or GTI. The business case still needs to work a little bit. Rs have a higher price point and so that also narrows the volume of it. So it's an early test well that we are looking at the product planners and the strategists to see where that takes us. We need to be smart about what we think we can bring to the market."

"In my Cadillac days, everybody wanted a CTS-V wagon," he said. "But those who were willing to buy the thing, well... How do you reconcile that? I mean, there's obviously there's enthusiasm for cars. But when it when it comes to the showroom, and when it comes to people buying cars, the reality something different. Volkswagen seems to be in a similar position."

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