Harald Schomburg, Worldwide sales and marketing director, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles
You've launched Maxi, the long-wheelbase version of the Caddy, at the Amsterdam show. How many do you expect to sell annually?
Demand for this size of van is growing and we reckon Maxi will account for around one-third of total Caddy volume in the future. We sell upwards of 140,000 Caddys a year at present and Maxi should bring us extra sales on top of that. We've increased capacity at the factory in Poland to cope with anticipated future orders.
Will the short-wheelbase Caddy be available with the 140hp 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine on offer in Maxi?
It will. I think that around 15 to 20 per cent of all the Caddy Maxis we sell will be powered by it. The percentage for Caddy will be a bit lower.
Do you intend to offer the DSG gearbox — it can be used as either a manual or as an automatic — available in Caddy in Maxi as well?
Yes. Around 20 to 25 per cent of the Caddy we sell at present are equipped with it and the percentage is increasing.
We're aware that you intend to re-enter the purpose-built pick-up market in 2010/2011. But do you have any plans to launch a rival to the Citroën Nemo/Peugeot Bipper/Fiat Fiorino?
We think there is a market there and we are analysing it, but we have no plans for an introduction at the moment.
Are you worried that Caddy Maxi sales will erode demand for the short-wheelbase Transporter?
There may be a bit of substitution, but I don't think it will be significant and we've already taken it into account. Admittedly Maxi can carry an 800kg payload and so can the smallest Transporter, but there's a big difference in load area; 4.3m3 for Maxi compared with 5.7m3 for Transporter. The 800kg Transporter isn't a big volume seller anyway; volume sales really start with the 1,000kg model.
How are Transporter and Crafter doing?
We're going to have another record year with Transporter. We'll be eight to 10 per cent up on 2006's total. So far as Crafter is concerned we'll exceed last year's combined total of around 46,000 Crafter and LT sales.
You market Crafter with the Shiftmatic automated manual gearbox. How popular is it proving to be?
About six to eight per cent of the Crafters we sell are fitted with it, which is what we expected.
Are you taking action to reduce Crafter delivery times?
They've been too long and they're gradually coming down. Our aim is to reduce them to four to six weeks. We're not there yet, but we think we will be next year.