The new VW training academy in Centurion.

Volkswagen South Africa has set its sights on becoming the overall new vehicle market share leader, a position that has been held by Toyota for the past 31 years.

VWSA managing director David Powels said the company had increased its share in the market to date this year by 2.6 percent to 17.7 percent and was a close second behind Toyota.

Powels added the group had been the total market leader in four of the seven months so far in 2011 and VWSA’s long-term vision was to be the most profitable and “fascinating” automotive group in South Africa.

“This means leading in customer satisfaction and quality, achieving benchmark returns, being a top employer and finally – total market leadership, aiming towards 100 000 units per annum,” he said at the opening of the company’s new R60 million training academy at its Centurion site in Gauteng.

Powels stressed that VWSA wanted profitable growth in domestic volumes and in exports and would not be the No.1 in volumes at the expense of profit.

He added that if VWSA was to have any aspiration of becoming the market leader, it would have to launch a number of new models, but declined to provide specific details about planned model launches.

Toyota spokesman Leo Kok said so far this year the company was still leading the overall market with a share of just more than 18 percent and it was preparing a massive product offensive for the fourth quarter of the year, including launches of major upgrades of the Hilux and Fortuner, while the all-new Yaris and the entry-level Etios are expected to shake up Toyota’s small car portfolio around the end of this year.

Powels said growth in the overall domestic new vehicle market this year was not expected to be as high as was anticipated at the beginning of the year and sales growth was expected to be slower in the second half of the year.

But he said the total passenger market full year forecast of 385 000 vehicles was still 14 percent higher than 2010.

Powels said VWSA anticipated an almost 23 percent year-on-year growth in passenger vehicle sales by its Volkswagen and Audi brands and as a group, factoring in its commercial vehicle brands, it anticipated year-on-year growth of about 40 percent.

Although the number of vehicle brands in the country had increased from 17 in January 1994 to 60 in June this year and the number of models had grown from 192 to 1287 in the same period, VWSA had since 1998 maintained and even grown its market share to 23 percent, he added.

Powels said the introduction of the Amarok one-ton double cab in 2010 and the single cab last month had resulted in VW commercial vehicles making the most significant strides and had grown their sales by an impressive 259 percent year-on-year.

He said VWSA had a 2.1 percent market share in 2010 and was a very small player in the light commercial vehicle market but had grown its market share this year to 5.6 percent and was hoping to increase it further in 2012 to between eight and nine percent and become a significant player in this market.

Powels added that VWSA had achieved record volumes of 70 000 export vehicles in 2010, which would probably be surpassed this year with almost 80 000 vehicle exports.

Mike Glendinning, the company’s sales and marketing director, said the 4 000m² training academy had been custom designed to provide high-quality training courses aimed at improving the performance of VW dealers.

“We are striving for market leadership, to be the top employer, providing outstanding customer satisfaction and generating profits,” he said. - Business Report