VW development chief Ulrich Hackenberg said the automaker plans to sell the car in the U.S. to take advantage of American buyers' increasing enthusiasm for smaller, fuel-efficient cars.
"The small-car segment is the fastest growing segment in the U.S.,"
Hackenberg told Automotive News Europe at the Detroit auto show. "Oil prices
VW has never competed in the subcompact segment in the United States. The smallest car it sells here is the Golf, also known as the Rabbit. The Polo would be larger than the Toyota Yaris, but smaller than the Honda Fit, says Volkswagen Group of America CEO Stefan Jacoby.
Jacoby says the Polo would be a "further alternative" to help VW meet its goal of more than tripling U.S. sales to 800,000 vehicles annually over the next decade. Once the economy begins to recover, oil prices will be more expensive than before the recession, Jacoby says, and VW has the "right products for that."
"With our European heritage, we are used to compact and subcompact cars. We are working right now to upgrade these cars for the American market," Jacoby said.
Volkswagen of America spokesman Jim Gill says he is not aware of a definite date for the Polo's U.S. launch. VW might test American reaction to the car at upcoming auto shows, he said.
"We are definitely looking at it and what would need to be done for it to be successful," Gill said.
Hackenberg said that U.S.-market Polos could be produced in VW's assembly plant in Puebla, Mexico. He did not say when U.S. sales of the Polo would start.
VW will debut its latest-generation Polo at the Geneva auto show in March.