The Volkswagen Academy in Beijing, the carmaker's first outside its headquarters in Germany, will help meet the need for qualified personnel, according to board member Christian Klingler. [Photo / China Daily]
BEIJING - Volkswagen Group plans to almost double its dealerships in China in the next five to eight years, according to Christian Klingler, the company's board member for sales and marketing.
By 2014 the company intends to have 1,600 dealerships, up from the current 1,000, with the number of employees expected to surge from the present 56,700 to more than 100,000, Klingler said.
"There will be more growth (in dealer outlets) in smaller cities than in first-tier cities," Klingler said. "And clearly growth in the western region will be stronger than in the east."
To meet the "enormous demand" for staff training, Klingler said Volkswagen recently opened a sales and service academy in Beijing, where about 700 trainers will themselves be trained over the next five years to instruct service and management staff at dealerships across the country.
The Beijing institution will be the first outside Volkswagen's headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany to issue trainer diplomas, according to the company.
Last year, the group sold more than 1.9 million vehicles in China, including some 1.5 million Volkswagen-brand cars. The group also makes Audi and Skoda cars in China.
Klingler said the auto giant expects to move more than 2 million Volkswagen cars annually in the near future.
Yet he noted that the company has more strategic objectives than just sales numbers.
"Customer satisfaction is essential for us," he said.
"The opening of the Volkswagen Academy is a clear signal that we are committed to improved services for Chinese customers," he said.
Soh Weiming, executive vice-president of Volkswagen Group China, said 6 million euros ($8.58 million) will be invested in the new academy in the first year, with more to follow.
The company previously announced it will invest nearly 11 billion euros ($15.73 billion) in China between 2011 and 2015 to develop new products and expand facilities.
Such robust expansion means more than 50,000 new jobs will be created at the company's joint ventures and dealer network, according to Karl-Thomas Neumann, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group China.
Volkswagen now has joint ventures in China with FAW Group and SAIC Motor Corp that have a combined production capacity of nearly 2 million vehicles a year. The company said the figure will be raised to 3 million in the years to come.