Horn: Volkswagen needs two new SUVs in the U.S. market

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Newly named Volkswagen of America chief Michael Horn said the automaker needs not just a seven-seat sport utility vehicle, which the Chattanooga assembly plant is the leading contender to build, but a new compact SUV as well.

Horn, the 51-year-old German who took the reins of VW’s U.S. sales and marketing arm earlier this month, also said in an interview that officials at the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg need to better understand the American car buyer.

The 23-year VW veteran comes to his post in Herndon, Va., after serving as global head of aftersales for VW since 2009, one of a number of positions he has held within the company both in Europe and internationally learning sales and marketing. When he was in his 20s, Horn said he spent time at the University of San Francisco, where he earned a business degree.

The married father of two said he has always closely followed the U.S. auto market, and he understands the inner workings of VW, which should help “how you translate the American market to [VW’s German headquarters in] Wolfsburg in the right way and to push it.”

Last week, he sat down with Times Free Press Deputy Business Editor Mike Pare and a handful of other journalists at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.