VW aims to tune into local tastes in latest U.S. turnaround plan
* Detroit concept model to kick off SUV offensive
* VW to reduce model cycles, hire local market experts
* 800,000 sales target impossible to reach by 2018 - IHS
By Andreas Cremer
DETROIT, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Volkswagen's latest push to become more than just a niche player in the United States builds on a truism the German carmaker has long ignored: tune in to U.S. customers.
VW is aiming for leadership in global auto markets, backed by timely expansions in China and Latin America as well as its dominance in Europe. But it keeps struggling in North America.
It swapped U.S. chiefs a year ago, disappointed by the results of a push into competitive midsize sedans assembled at a $1 billion factory in Tennessee. U.S. sales of VW brand cars have dropped 16 percent since 2012.
To fight back, the company plans to triple its product range in the fast-growing crossover segment and refresh models more quickly, company sources said.
The campaign will include a five-seat variant of the forthcoming midsize sport-utility vehicle (SUV), a concept version of which VW will unveil on Monday at the Detroit auto show, the sources said. Continuación...