New Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn is launching a quality offensive for the Volkswagen brand.

German industry newspaper Automobilwoche reported that Winterkorn toured the pilot assembly plant at Wolfsburg with his new management team and discussed positioning the brand as a leader in quality in all areas, from new car production to residual values of used cars. Toyota would be the benchmark.

Key to the new offensive will be the appointment of Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler as new head of quality for the group. He is due to take over shortly from Falko Schling.

All projects will be reviewed for quality. Winterkorn has apparently already agreed with Ulrich Hackenberg, head of development for the Volkswagen brand since the beginning of February, to modify the window and door seals for the next Golf due in 2008. The new design should look better and not cost a cent more.

The cockpit for next year’s Polo is also reportedly being reworked at Winterkorn’s behest.

Winterkorn’s core strategy for the Volkswagen brand is to improve initial and long-term quality, as well as residual values. This should allow VW cars to continue to command a premium in an increasingly competitive market.