VW to buy Karmann assets, Build New Car  

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Karmann Ghia

FRANKFURT - German carmaker Volkswagen AG said Friday it will buy some assets of German contract carbuilder Wilhelm Karmann GmbH to create a new manufacturing subsidiary that will eventually build a new car model.

VW could simply be acquiring the contract manufacturer's wide base of tooling. Karmann of late specialized in convertibles, building the Mercedes-Benz CLK for Mercedes-Benz, for example. While the intellectual property of those designs won't be part of the transaction, much of the equipment used to manufacture convertible tops likely will be.

VW said that according to its current plans, it could create 1,000 jobs at the site by 2014. It said it will require 200 people starting in 2010 to begin production and set up the vehicle project.
VW said Karmann has extensive experience in the production of small cars, which it could access as needed, but that it first has to hold final negotiations with Karmann shareholders on the deal.

One potential for manufacture at such a site would be the Bluesport roadster-based model that has been rumored for use at VW, Porsche and Audi. The Porsche version has been alternately envisioned as a revival of the 914 or a rebirth of the 356. Audi's take on the small roadster would come in the form of the e-tron powered R4, most likely, though that might also imply a hard-top version as well.

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