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FORMER GM MANAGER BECOMES VW'S US CHIEF

By NBF News

Volkswagen AG, Europe's largest carmaker, named Mr. Jonathan Browning to head its United States operations, putting an end to a two and half months leadership vacuum at the unit, Reuters reported from Berlin on Tuesday.

Browning, a former General Motors Company executive, who joined VW in June, will take over as President and Chief Executive Officer of Volkswagen Group of America from October 1, 2010, VW said in a PR Newswire statement on Monday.

Predecessor Stefan Jacoby last month became the Chief Executive Officer of Volvo Cars, the Swedish automaker that's now owned by China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Company.

Browning, 51, was hired by VW this year to improve coordination of the carmaker's international sales companies. He was previously vice president of global sales, service and marketing at GM.

His appointment coincides with the final phase of the introduction of a new Jetta compact, VW's best-selling American model. VW is preparing to open a factory in Tennessee and present its first car built exclusively for the US market.

'The major part of his career was outside the US,' an analyst for IHS Automotive in Frankfurt, Mr. Christoph Stuermer, said. 'Just because he worked for GM doesn't mean he understands the US dealer mentality. I'm curious to see what he comes up with,' he added.'

Browning, a former chairman of GM's United Kingdom-based Vauxhall division, was previously in charge of marketing at GM Europe and ran the carmaker's Turkish division. He worked for GM from 1981 to 1997 and returned to the Detroit automaker in 2001 after a stint at Ford Motor Company, where he left as managing director of the Jaguar brand.

VW Sales Chief, Mr. Christian Klingler, is holding a briefing with Browning and interim US Chief, Mr. Michael Lohscheller at the National Press Club in Washington.

Volkswagen is heading for an eighth annual loss in the US Reviving revenue and profit there is essential to CEO Martin Winterkorn's goal of surpassing Toyota Motor Corporation in size and profitability by 2018.