By Christoph Rauwald
FRANKFURT—Volkswagen /zigman2/quotes/206736865/delayed DE:VOW +0.41% AG is expected Monday to appoint former General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. executive Jonathan Browning as chief of its U.S. operations, people familiar with the matter said.
Volkswagen spokesman Stefan Ohletz said the company generally doesn't comment on personnel speculation.
Mr. Browning joined Volkswagen in June and is in charge of the auto maker's national-sales companies world-wide. Previously, he was vice president for European sales, service and marketing at GM from 2001 to 2008, and was chairman of the Detroit auto maker's British Vauxhall brand between 2006 and 2008.
He was named vice president of GM's global sales, service and marketing in 2008. Prior to his work at GM, Mr. Browning worked at Ford between 1997 and 2001, first as Ford Europe's marketing director and then as global managing director of the Jaguar brand.
Volkswagen's former U.S. chief, Stefan Jacoby , left Europe's largest auto maker by sales this summer to take over as chief executive of Swedish auto maker Volvo Cars, which recently was acquired by China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. from Ford.
In his new job, Mr. Browning faces an ambitious target from Volkswagen's German headquarters. The Wolfsburg-based firm wants to more than triple annual car sales in the U.S. to one million by 2018, with the Audi /zigman2/quotes/207972355/delayed DE:NSU +0.63% AG premium brand accounting for 200,000 sales.
Growth in the fiercely competitive U.S. market is crucial for Volkswagen's long-term expansion plan, which includes outpacing Japanese giant Toyota Motor /zigman2/quotes/200537742/composite TM +0.78% Corp. as the world's largest auto maker.
Volkswagen has steered better through the industry gloom than many of its rivals, due mainly to a large presence in China and a strong foothold in Brazil. Additionally, sales on its home turf were propped up last year by state-backed scrapping incentives.
But Volkswagen's turnaround efforts in the U.S. have proved to be an uphill battle in recent years, leading the company to ramp up investments further.
Volkswagen in October is set to launch a revamped version of its Jetta sedan in the U.S., with prices starting at $15,995, which is expected to fuel sales volume. The Jetta is Volkswagen's best-selling vehicle in the U.S.
Separately, Volkswagen is building a new plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., for the production of a midsize sedan in 2011. The auto maker is investing as much as $1 billion in the plant and creating about 2,000 jobs.
Volkswagen closed its last U.S. plant in Westmoreland, Pa., in 1988 due to under-utilization amid sluggish sales.
The new plant is designed to enable Volkswagen to produce in North America 85% of the vehicles it sells in the U.S. Besides its new plant in Tennessee, Volkswagen operates a production plant in Mexico.