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Volkswagen delays new car launch

Volkswagen has delayed the launch of its Eos coupe-cabriolet model by two months to May 2006 due to quality issues, the company said yesterday.

A spokesman said that VW Group chief Wolfgang Bernhard made the decision since some ‘bugs in the system’ still had to be worked out.

VW is expected to build 50,000 Eos cars per year.

Bernhard aims to cut warranty costs by up to €500m (£338m) by 2008 as part of the carmaker's ‘ForMotion Plus’ restructuring programme designed to boost group pre-tax profit by €4bn to €5.1bn in 2008.

Warranty claims for cars up to a year old should drop by half by 2008 as well, despite his plans to launch 5-10 new models during the period while keeping annual investment at the brand flat at roughly €2.5bn.

Bernhard, who has tied executive bonuses to quality performance, aims to cut the time during which problems are found in VW cars already on the road, and when they are solved in the production process, to 18 weeks from around 48 weeks.

He also plans to improve the brand's ranking in quality tests such as JD Power's dependability survey among US drivers, in which Volkswagen recently placed 34 out of 37 badges.

"We must be able to compete in the top third in three years," he said in an interview with the German media in July.

A coupe-cabriolet is a model with a coupe silhouette that sports a retractable hardtop, allowing it to change to a cabriolet. Fewer and fewer cabrios entering the market these days come with a traditional soft material top.

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