January 13, 2014 / 12:30 AM / 4 years ago

REFILE-Volkswagen says it plans to invest $7 bln in North America

DETROIT, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Volkswagen said on Sunday it plans to make a sport utility vehicle tailored for the North American market and to invest $7 billion in the region as it seeks to hike sales.

Volkswagen, Germany’s largest automaker, reiterated its goal of selling 1 million Volkswagen and Audi vehicles in the United States annually by 2018 as it launches more locally made cars suited to the U.S. market.

“As a group we will be investing over $7 billion in North America over the next five years,” Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn said in a statement released on Sunday, on the eve of the North American Auto Show in Detroit.

The $7 billion is part of an already announced multi-year investment program by the Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen Group.

For the U.S. market, Volkswagen said it will launch a seven-seater sports-utility vehicle in 2016. The company is also due to start production of the Golf compact in Puebla, Mexico, next week.

In 2013, Volkswagen Group, which also owns the Porsche, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Skoda and Seat brands, sold 600,000 cars in North America.

As part of a product offensive, Audi plans to launch the A3 compact and Q3 compact sports utility in North America this year.

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