18 July 2007

VW Continues Their Death March

According to VWVortex, the Fahrvergnügen people are getting all bright eyed and bushy tailed with a set of new models due to come out next year.

What's coming out?

  • Jetta TDI Wagon
  • Tiguan CUV
  • VW Minivan
  • Passat Coupe
  • Next gen Touareg
See a problem here?

In Canada and the US, VW has made a committed effort towards becoming Audi-lite. And it's just not working. At all. Their core brands, the Jetta and the Rabbit, are mired in sales slumps versus their respective segment leaders (Civic, et al), almost totally because they are priced WAY too high. The Passat has the same issues when compared against the midsize segment competition which it matches up with. The problem is that the buying public just ain't buying the idea of VW as the premium brand. It's just not happening.

It's interesting to note that in Canada, sales have been brisk for VW. But for what models? The CITY Golf and the CITY Jetta. What are those you ask? Last generation versions of the respective nameplates. Sold for 15k, bare bones, weak engines, and nothing much in terms of frosting. Why did VW have to resort to this? Because they were getting their lunch eaten in the small car market by the more reasonably priced competition, and had no other choice.

So the solution going forward would have seemed to be simple- go back to the bread and butter of the brand. VW was never about 'premium'. It was about solid German engineering at cheap prices. Pretty simple really. A Polo derivative should have come over to North America to fill in the gap in the product line created by escalating Jetta and Rabbit prices (did you know that a Jetta can approach 40k CDN?), along with a number of offshoots (think coupe, convertible, hatchback, etc.) all available with diesel engines if wanted.

Instead we get more bloat for the Passat lineup, at what will probably be a price premium, a CUV that will no doubt be more expensive and offer less value than the Americans, the Japanese and the Koreans, a rebadged Chrysler minivan, and an SUV that probably would have been better off as an Audi/Porsche only model. The only bright light is the Jetta TDI Wagon offshoot- but will that be enough to stop the floundering?

Odds are... no.

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