Volkswagen Group Canada plans to expand its dealership network with 25 new Volkswagen “satellite” rooftops, part of an aggressive strategy to boost sales as the brand moves to electrify its product lineup.
The company is asking Canadian franchise owners to build the new locations in underserviced portions of the country, said Michael Ricciuto, director of network development for Volkswagen Canada. Nineteen per cent of the country’s 38 million people lack access to a VW dealership within an hour’s drive, according to the market-intelligence firm IHS Markit.
“You know the saying, ‘If you build it, they will come?’ ” Ricciuto said. “There’s a lot of truth to that.”
In March, Volkswagen Group of America announced that it plans to spend at least US $7.1 billion in North America through 2027 to build up EV production capacity. The company, the global headquarters of which is based in Wolfsburg, Germany, aims to introduce more than 25 new battery electric vehicles (BEVs) by 2030, the company said in a news release.
The ID4 electric crossover will arrive in Canadian showrooms this year, while the ID Buzz electric microbus is expected to be launched as a 2024 model. Volkswagen Group Canada manages the Volkswagen, Audi and Lamborghini brands.
The Volkswagen brand has 145 dealerships in Canada, but there are gaps in many areas, such as portions of Vancouver Island, the Prairies and Atlantic Canada, Ricciuto said. Only niche brand Subaru has fewer dealerships across Canada (94). Mazda has 163, Toyota has 287 and Honda has 237.
Worldwide sales of VW and its affiliated brands — such as Audi, Porsche, Skoda and Seat — total more than 10 million vehicles a year. The company sold 98,757 Volkswagen branded cars and trucks in Canada in 2021, representing a 5.2-per-cent market share, according to the Automotive News Research & Data Center in Detroit.