Ian Crawford | Jan 26, 2012

Not content with a record 48,242 sales in a tough 2011, VW Group Australia boss Anke Koeckler is shooting for more than 50,000 units this year.

Briefing the media at the company’s spanking new $40 million corporate headquarters in the Sydney suburb of Chullora, Ms Koeckler said last year’s result represented a 22 percent growth over 2010.

(In Australia, the VW group comprises the brand’s passenger cars, commercial vehicles and Skoda.)

Ms Koeckler said the outstanding 2011 sales performance was achieved “by a combination of brand strength, a strong dealer network and a great product line-up”.

“We invested a lot more money in all three brands and launched 13 new products during the year,” she said.

“We believe we have the right products for the Australian market to continue our growth plans.”

The VW group’s 48,000-plus 2011 sales performance shows the growing strength of the brand in this market. Those numbers are nearly five times VW sales of just a decade ago when the company was selling just 10,000 units annually.

During 2011, VW passenger-car sales rose by 13 percent to 36,834, commercial-vehicle sales of 7907 were up by 45 percent and Skoda’s 3501 units represented a remarkable 112 percent growth – admittedly off a low base.

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A busy 2012 trading year kicks off next week with the launch of the striking new Scirocco, and next month will see the Polo range receive further upgrades and additional standard features.

The entry-level Polo Trendline will come with five doors rather than the three of the previous version and buyers can look forward to new goodies such as Bluetooth phone connectivity and Media Device Interface (MDI) as well as daytime driving lights.

The Polo GTI has not been forgotten. It will soon come with the RCD510 touch-screen audio system, automatic climate-control air conditioning, rain-sensing wipers and an automatically dimming rear-vision mirror.

In the middle of the year the new Passat CC will arrive and a couple of months later it will be joined by an all-new model – the Passat Alltrack 4Motion wagon.

The year’s new model offerings will be topped off late in the fourth quarter by the three- and five-door Up! and the new Beetle.

On the commercial-vehicles side, VW’s award-winning Amarok is now available in four versions with the introduction of more engines and more standard features.

Buyers of the entry-level two-wheel-drive version now have two new engine options -- the new 103kW/340Nm TDI340 turbo-diesel and a two-litre TSI1300 petrol that is good for 118kW between 3800-5500rpm and 300Nm from just 1600rpm.

The oiler’s 340Nm of torque is on tap from 1750 to 2250rpm and, with a combined fuel-economy figure of 7.4litres/100km, it is the most economical model in the Amarok line-up.

The single-charger TSI300 petrol engine returns a fuel figure of 9.6litres/100km.

Both the TSI300 and TDI340 Amaroks come with a six-speed manual transmission (no auto option… yet) and buyers have the choice of either the heavy duty or comfort suspension. Both entry and Trendline Amarok can also be ordered in cab/chassis guise.

As well as the two new drivetrains, the Amarok’s standard inventory has been enhanced by the addition of a multi-function steering wheel for the Highline and Ultimate models. It’s optional for the entry-level and Trendline versions.

Heated seats are now standard for Amarok Ultimate and all models now come standard with daytime running lights.

Pricing for the six-speed manual TDI340 dual-cab/chassis starts at $29,990 and the manual TSI300 version kicks in at $30,590.

The big news for Amarok buyers is that in the third quarter, an eight-speed automatic will become available for all dual-cab versions. It will be seriously appealing when mated with the 132kW/420Nm turbo-diesel with 4Motion.

Volkswagen is also in serious discussions with its German factory masters on the question of adding Bluemotion technology to Australian spec VW commercials.

This includes things such as stop/start systems, battery-energy recovery and low rolling-resistance tyres.

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For its part, Skoda started 2010 with a model presence in just 21 percent of the Australian market.

Now, in 2012 with Octavia, Superb, Fabia and Yeti models, it now covers 52 percent of the passenger-car and SUV market.

The brand now has 35 dealers and is planning to add around 10 more before Christmas.

March will see the arrival of the petrol-powered Yeti 4x4 112TSI while in May the 77TSI Fabia Monte Carlo with a seven-speed DSG transmission is set to arrive.

May will be a busy month with Skoda set to launch the 132TSI Fabia RS hatch and wagon (both with the seven-speeder), a 77TSI version of the Fabia wagon and the relaunch of the 77kW Roomster wagon.

- Ian Crawford