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VW shows off new high-tech SUV concept

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Volkswagen unveiled on Sunday an SUV coupe concept — the Cross Coupe GTE plug-in hybrid.

"It is large, it is beautiful and it is pure high-tech. So we believe this concept could be a perfect match for America," said Volkswagen AG chairman Martin Winterkorn.

The vehicle will be officially unveiled on Monday.

Wainterkorn announced VW is undergoing "the biggest SUV offensive in our brand's history." A new Tennessee-built midsize SUV will go on sale next year, and VW announced it will add an all-new long-wheelbase Tiguan that will be made in the North America in 2017. The Tiguan is currently VW's smallest SUV.

"By then, the Volkswagen brand will have the best and most attractive SUV portfolio ever in its U.S. showrooms," Winterkorn said.

Volkswagen AG said Sunday it sold 10.14 million vehicles worldwide last year — the first time it topped eight-digit annual sales, and putting it neck and neck with General Motors Co. as the world's second-largest automaker.

Winterkorn bragged that the company hit the 10 million sales figure four years ahead of its goal "despite all headwinds. That gives us the drive and determination to meet the other targets of our strategy."

He said VW would return in the U.S. in "attack mode."

VW said its sales were up 4.2 percent worldwide, even as they declined by 2 percent in the United States. VW sales have doubled in 10 years as it sold more than 4 million vehicles for the first time in Asia in a year, up 11.3 percent. Most of those were in China, where sales were nearly 3.7 million, up 12.4 percent.

It's not clear if VW outsold GM in 2014, but both are expected to again be behind Toyota Motor Corp. VW held a narrow lead of just 28,000 vehicles — 7.4 million for VW through the first nine months — to 7.372 million for GM. GM is expected to announce its global sales on Wednesday.

Through the first nine months of the year, Toyota reported sales of 7.615 million.

VW said it was on track to meet its 2018 goals, including becoming the world's-largest automaker and has aggressive plans to grow sales in the United States and elsewhere.

In 2007, VW set an aggressive goal of 800,000 U.S. VW vehicle sales by 2018 and 200,000 Audi luxury vehicle sales. It also has goals worldwide by 2018 to have above-average growth in the fastest-growing markets and profits of at least 8 percent before taxes.

VW board member Christian Klingler said December worldwide sales were 881,000, up 2.7 percent.

VW sales were strong in Europe, up 5.1 percent. VW sales fell 12.7 percent in Russia as international sanctions over Ukraine have help push the sharply fall in value of the Russian currency. VW sales fell 19.8 percent in South America

VW sold 6.1 million passenger cars, with Audi accounting for 1.74 million vehicles sold, up 10.5 percent. Its Porsche brand was up 17 percent to nearly 190,000. Skoda rose 13 percent to 1.04 million.