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Piech's plans...

Here's a clip (it has the word Audi in it once)
that caught my eye:

The 'People's Car' Aims at a New Class of People

VOLKSWAGEN won't be keeping many manufacturing
secrets when it begins making a new luxury car
late next year.  The factory in downtown Dresden,
Germany, will have walls of glass, allowing
customers and passers-by to watch the cars being

Nor has VW hidden its ambitions.  As along ago as
June 1997, the company's chairman Ferdinand Piech,
talked publicly about his plan to build a high-end
Volkswagen in addition to VW's line of Audi luxury
cars.  Many people thought he was dreaming, but
even as he spoke Mark Lichte was at work on the

"I started on this project from the first day on
the job two and a half years ago," Mr. Lichte said
as he hovered over the Concept D, a prototype of
his progeny that was shown at the Frankfurt auto
show last month.

The production version does not yet have a name.
Concept D alludes to the HID segment" of the
German market, comprising large cars like the
Mercedes-Benz S-Class.  Unusual for that class,
the Concept D has a fast back shape.  'In the
history of vw there are a lot of fast-backs," Mr.
Lichte said, "but there are none in the D class.
We thought to have an alternative."

The all-wheel-drive car will have a 5-liter,
turbo-diesel V10 engine rated at 313 horsepower.
Volkswagen said it might offer other engines,
including a new 12-cylinder gasoline power plant.

People in the industry no longer dismiss Mr.
Piech's plans as dreams.  Last year, VW bought
control of Bugatti, Lamborghini and Bentley.

"VW is probably the only volume manufacturer that
could pull this off cost-effectively," said Simon
Miller, an automotive analyst with Credit Lyonnais
in London.  "It also has a quasi-premium brand
status that it has built up over the last 10 years
or so."

VW executives say the new car will be exported to
North America; the factory can build 40,000 a year
The price is expected to undercut the
Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which starts around

WILLIAM DIEM writing for the NY Times 10/10/99.