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VW chief in storm over 'axing' of key models

Volkswagen Group boss Bernd Pischetsrieder is no stranger to controversy. Just a few years ago, when he was running BMW, he stood up at the British International Motor Show and delivered a stinging criticism of Rover - just as the 75 saloon was being launched. Experts believe it effectively damaged sales.

Now he's at the centre of a new storm. Reports in motoring magazines last week claimed Pischetsrieder is axing six key VW Group models - including the recently-launched Skoda Superb and Audi A2.

Skoda UK quickly denied the Superb would be axed, pointing out the company has invested “hundreds of millions of pounds” in a new factory to produce the car.

“It would be absolutely ludicrous to kill off a major new model after three years,” says a spokeswoman. “We are now working from planning reports through to 2007 and 2008, and the Superb is very much part of our plans. It is the same with the Audi A2. All these magazines have done is made an assumption and printit.”

But one ex-VW employee claims there is a constant problem with senior motor industry executives telling journalists of future plans before national press offices know.

“This happens in VW, but it also happens elsewhere,” he says. “Pischetsrieder's predecessor, Dr Ferdinand Piech, also used to do this, and so you would have the situation where VW staff would learn about model plans from the press.”

The original interview with Pischetsrieder appeared in German magazine Auto motor und sport, and claimed the Seat Alhambra, VW Beetle, Seat Arosa and VW Lupo would not be replaced. It also revealed that VW's W12 supercar would be given the green light.

Pischetsrieder is quoted as saying: “The Skoda Fabia and Octavia families are enough to keep Skoda growing - there won't be any other Skodas.”

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