By on January 8, 2011

On Monday, the wraps will come off Volkswagen’s secretive NMS (New Midsize Sedan). Readers of Autobild in Germany already had first visual impressions of the car, we’ll know Monday whether Autobild was, well, given the right pictures. The car will be a bit longer than the Passat. It will be made especially for American tastes and wallets.

Wallets: The car will cost around $20,000, that’s $7,000 less than an entry model Passat. Tastes: “Inside, much cheaper plastic that in European vehicles will be used,” says Autobild. On Monday, we’ll also know what the car will be called, that’s the only thing that remained a secret so far. Some think it might be called Passat.

Volkswagen has high hopes in the decontented car. It will be built at a new $1 billion factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the first time Volkswagen builds cars again in the United States after they had retreated 1988 from New Stanton, PA, with their tails between their legs.

And now, they are back. “With typical bravura, Volkswagen executives say the car, will be at the forefront of a U.S. renaissance that will include more than tripling its unit sales to 800,000 cars by 2018,” writes the New York Times. “That, in turn, is part of the goal of Martin Winterkorn, VW’s chief executive, of surpassing Toyota to become the world’s largest automaker.”

Volkswagen needs the sales in the U.S. to rule the world. However, VW could never replicate their initial stateside Beetle success, and “for years, it has flirted with irrelevance in the United States,” says the NYT.

It will take much more than a bargain-basement Passat-a-like to triple unit sales in the U.S.  Wolfsburg-centric engineers had overslept major U.S. trends, from cupholders to SUVs to minivans. “A striking lapse,” tut-tuts  the Times, “considering that the Volkswagen bus was arguably the first family van.”

For certain families, at least.

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122 Comments on “On Monday, Volkswagen Strikes Back. But Will It Be A Hit?...”


  • avatar
    william442

    I Believe it was New Stanton;Stanton is in Virginia. What is that pricing again?

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    My understanding of VW view of American market is they suffered a sad, perhaps sneering puzzlement at the dumbing down of the buyers over time. I share their view.
    I believe they made a difficult and deliberate shift in mindset, i.e. if Americans really want a biggie-sized car made of crummier stuff, then VW would set about providing just that to the Americans.
    Its probably going to be a good car. Compare it to any SUV or Camry with real world road tests. No, don’t take the test cars on the Nurburgring or the Rubicon. Drive them to the mall and back in “drive” with the TV on and a hamburger in one hand and phone in the other.
     
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Making second- or third-rate products for other, more cost-sensitive markets is not new for VW.  They sold the Beetle for a very long time, and they still sell the MkI Golf.  Hell, in Canada you can still buy new (albeit very cost-cut) MkIV Jettas and Golfs that VW sends into battle with the Fit, Versa and Yaris
       
      FIAT does the same thing, for what it’s worth.  So do others.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    This desire to be the world’s largest in sales could have consequences, mainly the loss of brand equity for VW.  Hopefully, they don’t muck up Audi’s reputation.
     
    In a distant galaxy, a long time ago – I remember the Pennsylvania assembled Rabbits.  They had the look and feel of Chrysler built car, because the US sourced parts had more in common with 79 Plymouth or Dodge Horizon than something from Wolfsburg.  If VW tries hard enough they can repeat the experience.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      bufguy

      This desire to be the world’s largest in sales could have consequences, mainly the loss of brand equity for VW.  Hopefully, they don’t muck up Audi’s reputation.
       
      In a distant galaxy, a long time ago – I remember the Pennsylvania assembled Rabbits.  They had the look and feel of Chrysler built car, because the US sourced parts had more in common with 79 Plymouth or Dodge Horizon than something from Wolfsburg.  If VW tries hard enough they can repeat the experience.

      That’s a very good point. I remember the auto magazines calling the US built Rabbit’s “Malibuized”, referring to the cheaper hard plastics and the color coordinated dash boards, door panels and seats. A cited example of the cheaper quality was the the knob on the door that controlled the outside mirror adjustment. German Rabbit’s had a soft, cushy rubber knob, while the American one had a tiny metal stick.
      You can’t tell me that cheaper plastics save $7000.
      I hope they don’t make the same mistakes that forced the closure of their last plant in the late 80’s

    • 0 avatar
      BMWfan

      Agree with you there. If I want to buy something that is decontented, with inferior plastics, there are plenty of domestic manufacturers to fill the need. I realize that this might provide jobs, but the profits, if any, will probably be going back to the fatherland.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Volkswagen doesn’t understand their problem and therefore comes up with the wrong solution.  Kia will sell me an Optima with nice sheet metal, lots of features for the price, cheap interior plastic, a turbo 4, and A TEN YEAR POWERTRAIN WARRANTY.  If Volkswagen would offer a long warranty, I would gladly pay a little higher price for high quality interior plastics and German suspension tuning.  Fear of long-term repair costs is their problem.

    • 0 avatar
      pdq

      You’re absolutely right.  Velour interiors, padded dashboards that looked straight out of a Buick Skyhawk and ugly square headlights clashed with what was an otherwise decent looking German car.
      Interestingly, the Rabbit GTI, Jetta GLI and Scirocco were all imported from Wolfsburg because VW knew that those cars needed to have the whole “Fahrvergnügen” thing going on.
      But now they’re apparently going to build the next generation Americanized, vanilla, blah, beige VW.  Chances are it won’t be any more reliable than previous VW’s, it’ll be just as expensive to fix as previous VW’s and – like the Pennsylvania VW’s of long ago, it will trash VW’s reputation and sales without making an appreciable dent in the Asian manufacturers’ sales.
      Those who don’t learn from the past are destined to repeat it.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      pdq,

      The Rabbit GTi was assembled in Pennsylvania. The Scirocco was built in Osnabrück by Karmann, and the Jetta GLI was built Wolfsburg. The best things about VWs are all myths and misconceptions.

    • 0 avatar
      bill h.

      Yup, I had one of those PA made Rabbit GTis, one of the last ones made before they switched over to the Mk II for the ’85 model year.  I specifically wanted the original incarnation body-style, even if the newer car was going to be more powerful and refined.
      It still had some of the “Malibu” cues in the interior, but OTOH it had a US-made Borg-Warner A/C compressor that, while it sucked power from the 90 hp engine when on, cooled wonderfully and never gave a problem–not something you could say about the a/c compressors supplied with the German-sourced VWs.
       

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      If I want to buy something that is decontented, with inferior plastics, there are plenty of domestic manufacturers to fill the need
      ‘cept that many of the imports seem to be on that road.  VW, cheap plastics. Acura, slip in interior quality.  Toyota, still pretty good but not what they were. M-B, same thing.  Most of the  domestics have finally awakened to the fact that putting crap in front of the driver is a mistake.  Fords interiors are a big leap forward.  Even that bastation of garbage plastics Chrysler is stepping up…

  • avatar
    carguy

    So VW is trying to build a Chevy Malibu in the US? Judging from the cheapness of the new Jetta and past reliability issues, I’d rather have a Malibu.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    I guess the base engine will be the 2.slow as usual.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Ladies and gentlemen… VW pulls a Hyundai and tries to slavishly copy the Toyota Camry!

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Except both look better, have better interiors (then NMS, despite going “cheap” will likely still have the better interior than the Camry) and don’t handle like a boat on wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      bd2,

      There are about 400,000 people who know you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. I’ve never liked the Camry, but time in a rented 2011 model proved it to be above criticism. I’d take one over all but a few sedans on the market, and recommend it to anyone looking for a good ownership experience. A friend of mine grudgingly was relegated to driving a Toyota while VW tried to trouble shoot the steering on his 2008 VW GTI DSG last year, and I suspect the VW will be his 3rd and last German car as a result.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Is it that Volkswagen thinks that American tastes are for much cheaper plastics and whatnot, or is it that they think we are willing to put up with it? I’m very concerned about VW’s brand equity.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      I have been interested in the automakers obsession with cheaper plastics.  We hear it all the time.  I think a few hundred dollars would easily cover the difference between cheap and expensive plastic.  And it makes a much bigger subjective impression of quality.  I think this is the bean-counters running the show.  
      As one wise man said “Accountants should be on tap not on top”.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      It took me a while but I finally realized what I wanted from “plastics” in an automobile.  I want the armrest to have a little give (not like a pillow but not like a wooden chair either) and I want a soft fabric (or leather if it’s a leather interior) “pad” on the door next to the door armrest where my elbow will rest.  The dash can be as hard as concrete as long as it’s not too shiny and for god sakes I’d rather have fake wood over that fake brushed aluminum crap that adorns dashes now a days.  I also want switches and nobs that have a little feedback when you turn them, not spinning effortlessly like a the over-boosted power-steering of a 1975 New Yorker.  That’s all I ask, how much more expensive could that possibly be?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @Dan: Agreed.

    • 0 avatar
      SimonAlberta

      I think the sad reality is that America’s image around the world is more “cheap, tacky, garish, WalMart, faux wood, junk food” than it is “quality”.
       
      Not saying it is justified but it is what it is.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      “I have been interested in the automakers obsession with cheaper plastics.”

      And I’ve been interested in TTACers’ obsession with cheaper plastics. At this price, how many buyers are even thinking about plastics at all? I doubt they’re fondling the b-pillars and the top of the dashboard.

      Switchgear I can understand, and, say, a window sill made of hard stuff will be uncomfortable, and cold in the winter, but why does every surface in the car have to squish when you touch it? Hell, now it’s getting so crazy that at the top end, soft plastic isn’t good enough: you need to cover everything in leather. And if it’s not double-stiched? Well, then… That’s a non-starter!

      Where does it stop? Suede fuse box lids and translucent ivory interior light lenses?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Where does it stop? Suede fuse box lids and translucent ivory interior light lenses?
       
      Oooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhh!  May I see one please?  :P

    • 0 avatar
      ghentForever

      Dan you’re so funny.   I love you.

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      And I’ve been interested in TTACers’ obsession with cheaper plastics.
       
      Ahem, it’s not TTACers only. It comes from the MSM.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin L. Copple

      A great deal of the soft touch plastic on my 2003 VW Jetta is peeling and looking like Hell.  Would that it was cheaper solid plastic.  Sure, it was nice for the first 2 or 3 years, but to me losing that particular extra cost feature would be the opposite of decontenting.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      And I’ve been interested in TTACers’ obsession with cheaper plastics

      TTACers are, often to a fault, old at heart.  I happen to like that my Honda’s interior looks like a premium stereo rather than a horse-carriage.

      You get used to the image of luxury you grew up with.

  • avatar
    bufguy

    The original factory was in New Stanton PA, Westmoreland County. VW often referred to the plant as the Westmoreland Plant.  I owned a 1986 GTI and a 1988 GTI 16v both produced there.
    It was a UAW plant and the first large scale foreign auto factory predating all the Japanese factories.
    The Japanese, unlike VW selected non unionized locations for their factories, just as VW is now doing in TN

    • 0 avatar
      silverkris

      A comment about transplant factories and unionization: 

      the GM-Toyota joint venture, New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI), in Fremont, CA (just recently closed but now taken over by Tesla Motors) was always a UAW shop.  It actually dates around the same time as VW’s Westmoreland plant. 

      AFIAK, the Mazda (probably now Ford?) Flat Rock, MI facility was/is a union shop. 

      I think the key word may be location/region with regards to union or non-union, to some extent.   PA was and is a pretty strong union area so VW may not have been able to avoid the UAW. it’s probably not an accident that a lot of the transplant factories are in the South, which has historically hostile to trade unions – though I think a BIG part of the location was that the local governments gave big tax breaks and other sweetners to the manufacturers. 

      But the exceptions are Honda and Toyota factories in Ohio and Indiana.  One thing for the UAW presence is that they do keep the non-union plants to pay competitive wages and benefits that are similar to UAW rates in order to stay non-union. 

  • avatar
    JKC

    I’m not sure what the heck VW hopes to accomplish here, when car buyers can go to the local Hyundai store and buy a car that does not look like it was built down to a price, and won’t bankrupt the owner as soon as the warranty expires.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      VW’s styling may be ‘crisp’, but the Sonata’s styling is ‘smooth’ or ‘hot’, etc., and I don’t really want ‘crisp’.  VW’s arrogance shows when they announce that they’ve cheapened the car for American tastes.

      And as may VW owners can attest, just give us an electrical system that’s reliable.

    • 0 avatar
      JKC

      @gslippy: electrics, and “normal wear” parts that cost $5000. (Any owner of a B5 Passat 4Motion had better hope they never lose a rear differential.)

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @JKC: I owned a B5 2002 Passat for 3 years, and unloaded it before the warranty expired.  It was in the shop a lot – 4 electrical failures, brakes, oil burning (30-valve V6), inaccurate fuel gauge, poor throttle response.  I knew I could never afford non-warranty repairs.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    “Much cheaper plastic” is last on my list of things to be concerned about, behind: good driving dynamics, cost-of-ownership, styling, comfort, reliability, and all electronic/mechanical systems working in a proper manner.

  • avatar
    MrIncognito

    It’s really frustrating to watch VW take cars I would love to own but wouldn’t want to fix and turn them into cars I wouldn’t want to own or fix.
     
    Their problem was never that the interiors were too nice, and their failure to recognize the real barrier to entry into the US market (reliability) is fairly stunning.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      What real barrier to entry? I don’t recall docks full of unsold Volkswagens. Up until this point when VW decided it wanted to take over the world they were selling what they were producing.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    Plastic interiors, decontented cars, worked for Chrysler!  Merecedes Benz thought that we Americans like plastic and decontented cars too.  (When they had Chrysler).  I thought that really nice interiors and that German feel is what made a VW a VW.  We might as well buy a Serbring!

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      A colleague got a good deal on one of the last new Jettas before the “Americanized” one hit.  I congratulated him on buying the last VW that was worth rolling the dice on because of it’s German interior and driving dynamics.

    • 0 avatar
      EChid

      Too true 65corvair, too true. The last two times I have purchased a car I have wanted a VW again, so very very badly. Almost bought a Jetta (still may, last gen only though) and a Passat. But their engines and reliability was comparatively poor, still, unless you got the 2.5litre engine. When will VW realize that the reason people don’t buy VWs is not because they cost more, but because there is no guarantee whatsoever that my $40,000 family sedan won’t suck me dry of money with numerous quality and reliability issues down the road. They are asking people to take exotic-care sized risks on middle-class level vehicles. Of course they don’t have sales!

  • avatar
    JJ

    Obviously it’s not just the plastics though, it’s also the cheaper workforce and the fact they now don’t need to ship it all the way to the US anymore.

    I’m always surprised to see how (comparatively) cheap European built cars are in the US, even regardless of tax differences, considering the current exchange rate and the fact they need to ship the products over as well.

  • avatar
    Tommy Boy

    In recent years the semi-Audi interior and semi-BMW driving dynamics were the only reasons to consider a VW and resign oneself to the Euro-unreliability / Euro-undurability.
     
    So now the reason to consider a VW is … what exactly?
     
    They might pull the numbers if they also offer a Hyundai-beating warranty, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for that to happen.
     
    Having worked for dealers that had German franchises, do know that the “factory” does believe that Americans are uncultured / unsophisticated, and stupid, and that they Germans know better, even if Americans are too stupid to realize it.  So this dumbing-down of vehicles to lowest common denominator is not surprising, it is indicative of what they think we’ll like.
     
    It may go down in automotive annals alongside Nissan dumping the name “Datsun” in the U.S. — to this day they’ve never recovered the cache they once enjoyed in this market.

    • 0 avatar
      SimonAlberta

      As I commented above, I think the image of America and Americans around the world is probably at an all-time low.
       
      It is partly ignorance but is certainly not helped when your biggest export is Hollywood and crap TV shows.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      In recent years the semi-Audi interior and semi-BMW driving dynamics were the only reasons to consider a VW and resign oneself to the Euro-unreliability / Euro-undurability.

      So now the reason to consider a VW is … what exactly?
       
      Bingo!

    • 0 avatar
      KitaIkki

      @SimonAlberta
      “when your biggest export is Hollywood and crap TV shows.”
      How about Amazon.com, Apple, Boeing, Cisco, Coca Cola, eBay, Ford, Google, HP, Intel, Johnson&Johnson, Kraft, Merck, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Motorola, Proctor&Gamble, Philip Morris, Starbucks, WalMart, …
      American economic might is so dominant and pervasive that most people around the world don’t even realize it.  It’s like the air we breathe.

    • 0 avatar
      BMWfan

      @Tommy Boy

      Having worked for dealers that had German franchises, do know that the “factory” does believe that Americans are uncultured / unsophisticated, and stupid, and that they Germans know better, even if Americans are too stupid to realize it. So this dumbing-down of vehicles to lowest common denominator is not surprising, it is indicative of what they think we’ll like.

      How right you are. My Grandfather and Grandmother were German, and although I loved them dearly, I can tell you without a doubt that Germans are some of the most stubborn people on the planet. They can be on a course to disaster, know that disaster is coming, and yet still keep marching towards it. They just refuse to admit they are wrong. I have seen it many times, and I still can’t explain it.I am thankful that I have been slightly tempered by by Fathers side.

    • 0 avatar
      EAM3

      The stubborn side of the Germans reminds me of the story about the A/C on the E12 BMW 528i (I don’t know if it’s true but like some tales, it has been told enough times to make it sound somewhat believable).
      BMW NA kept nagging the factory to outfit the car with a better HVAC system, insisting that the current system was not enough to keep occupants cool in the hot American summers.  The factory, naturally, blew off their requests and responded with the expected “the A/C is just fine and needs no improvement.”  One summer when some German executives flew to the US to tour some dealerships in the southwest, BMW NA provided them with a black on black 528i and disabled the power windows, forcing them to rely on the A/C.  At the end of their trip, they admitted that the system had to be improved.

  • avatar
    marlin66

    Americans got the Westmoreland cars beginning in ’78….however, in Canada we continued to receive German-built Rabbits (OK, A1 Golfs, really) until the 1981 model year, when they began foisting the PA cars on us.  This meant that, from ’78 to ’80, Canadians had access to the infinitely more desireable cars.  And, in ’79 and ’80, we even had a GTI model (unfortunately without the hot motor….).

    Earlier comments are correct in that the most disappointing differences were almost entirely in the interiors.  However, I believe the 1978 Car & Driver article, to which BufGuy refers, also mentioned that the suspension tunings had been softened as well – a situation that was not really rectified until the arrival of the 1983 (USA) GTI.

    For what it’s worth, I would say I also prefer the round headlights, especially on the GTI’s with the secondary driving lights inboard on the grille. 

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    In my book styling sells…

    If the new car gives off an aura a level or two above a Camry, Hyundai, Accord, & Fusion at the same price point or less it will be a winner.  (The 50 footer test)  If not, it will be a flash in the pan with only VW loyalists and the volunteer state people with ‘T’ decals stepping up to buy.   

     

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      But it looks almost (from the side anyway) identical to a half dozen other cars! I don’t get the copycat looks so many cars have now. Styling doesn’t really cost anything!

  • avatar
    silverkris

    The old, original VW Beetle was all about durability, reliability and ease of service. 

    With the advent of the Rabbit, Jetta and Passat…VW went to a perception of performance, nice interiors but at the expense of reliability. 

    I don’t know how the decontenting of the models (also done with the new Jetta) will fly if they don’t fix the reliability issue. 

  • avatar
    EChid

    And so the VW I knew and loved has died. I wlll now remember it as best I can: a loaded 2001 Jetta GLS TDI.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    VW/Audi’s worldwide sales success is sad proof that long term reliability no longer sells cars.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Until financialization of society, despite all desperate attempts to keep it alive, finally implodes, at least. Then, once everything from production/distribution chains to households needs to pay increased attention to operating cash positive in at least the medium term….. maybe those everlasting 90’s era VTEC lumps don’t seem so outdated anymore.
       
       

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Very odd choice to have Germans get the first look at the car, considering they won’t be able to buy one. Or did they just show it to Autobild so they can laugh at how big and bland it is?

  • avatar
    IGB

    Hyundai is breaking sales records by providing more for less. More quality, better reliability, less than a comparable vehicle.
    VW is taking the Chevy Aveo approach to car marketing. Give less for less. Has that ever worked?

  • avatar
    MarcKyle64

    Why buy a NMS with VW’s enduringly poor reliability, scarce dealer network and hard plastic interior when I can buy a Genesis?

  • avatar
    zznalg

    I recently bought a 2011 CC 2.0T manual because it exemplifies the many traditional virtues extolled upon VW: Audiesque design and quality, BMWesque handling (at least after some mods), beautiful styling such that the car looks much more expensive than it is (in 2.0T guise), excellent and simple ergonomics, good comfort, great fuel efficiency  and yes, a soft touch, refined and attractive interior. So far, it has been solid and reliable to boot. I agree with all the above comments that, minus the apparent value, beauty, quality, refinement and driver centricity, there would be nothing of meaning left to VW. So, for those folks who like VW for what it (was), go get a Golf or CC before it’s too late.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      I don’t think it’s fair to judge reliability after a couple of months of ownership, unless you trade vehicles every year.

    • 0 avatar
      BMWfan

      @zznalg

      BMWesque handling (at least after some mods)

      I beg to differ. The only way you’re ever going to make that car handle like a BMW, is to jack it up and put a BMW under it.

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      He said BMW-esque.  That means similar, and in the scheme of mid and smaller sized family sedans VWs always drove better than the Japanese or domestic brands.  That being said, I find nothing compelling about a decontented, and likely mushy riding VW.  Anyone wanting that will buy a Camry, or maybe a Chevy, etc.
       
      It will be interesting to see how VW markets this thing.  Their ads have always been geared toward stupid kids, and tree huggers that want to put a bike on the roof of their car.  Not sure how the NMS fits into that niche.  Oh well, I guess we can all hold our breath and wait for the Phaeton to come, and then go again.

  • avatar
    340-4

    Finally!
     
    Something I can use to cross shop against a $12,000 two-year old Impala!
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      spyspeed

      Well said!

    • 0 avatar
      Tommy Boy

      That Scirocco GT TDI sure looks tempting.  I have a soft spot for diesels and wish we had more to choose from (that is, WITHOUT urea injection, which is a deal-killer).

      For a whole host of reasons things are beginning to feel more and more like the seventies.  America in economic decline; an incompetent President (in the present case, I’d go so far as to say an anti-American President who believes that our decline is a good thing); increasing inflation (prices rising, packaging with lowered content amounts and de-contenting of cars); and foreign manufacturers leaving their good stuff at home and only selling watered-down stuff here (many readers here will recall the era of often problematic “grey market” cars as the only avenue to get the good stuff).

    • 0 avatar
      colin42

      Tommy Boy

      Why is a urea a deal killer? Is fuel a deal killer? what about screen wash?

      Urea is readily available and generally has better fuel consumption (diesel + urea vs diesel and Nox trap as you have on the Jetta TDI).

      I find it interesting how the current VW diesel has a high pressure EGR / lower pressure EGR + NOx absorber (which needs to be cleaned with rich combustion) – lots to go wrong and relative poor fuel consumption. Compare the fuel consumption of the NA jetta with equivalent urea diesel engine found in europe.
      And before you quote increased service costs – you don’t need to flush a urea system every service

    • 0 avatar
      Tommy Boy

      Colin42,
       
      >>Why is a urea a deal killer? Is fuel a deal killer? what about screen wash?

      I don’t like the idea of my engine shutting down after a short period of indicated “out of urea.”  With European cars I can just imagine what electrical gremlins might incorrectly trigger such codes, particularly as the car gets older.

      I’ve heard (though haven’t confirmed) that BMW (and MB?) require the system refilled (and/or flushed) by the dealer every time the system needs topping up, which during the warranty period will be a de facto requirement to pay the dealer.  I’ve read that the new Ford diesel urea is expected to have a range of only 5,000 miles.

      So more to go wrong, and definite increased hassle factor with more trips to the dealer.

  • avatar
    Zombo

    If VW is serious about selling more cars in the U.S. then why don’t they bring the Polo or   Scirocco over here instead of switching to cheap interiors that people are already sick and tired of ? A Polo GTI or a Scirocco diesel would be just the thing to get people in the states interested in VWs again !

    http://www.motortrend.com/auto_shows/geneva/2010/1002_2011_volkswagen_polo_gti/index.html

    http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/05/diesel-scirocco-is-fun-for-thee-but-not-for-we/
     
     
     
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      Trend-Shifter

      I have seen Scirocco’s in Hong Kong & mainland China.  (Though not many)

      It is a car that could cause me to make an irrational decision and buy a new car if it was available in the states.  Especially the performance model. 

      At the least it should be VW’s halo model in the states to lift the brand. 

  • avatar
    Joss

    Dear VW if you want to hit the cross hairs in NA you need to concentrate more on after sales support & warrranty rather than initial price choppings. Your offerings may be finely engineered and all that, but they don’t score well with Consumers & J D Power etc.

  • avatar
    anchke

    Every time I bought a new car in recent years, I looked at/test drove a VW, since there’s a dealership within a couple miles. Usually liked the cars, but didn’t buy because of concerns with reliability and, since I tend to buy and hold, VWs show their age quickly. But I have bought cars with hard plastic bits. Not a big deal. I think the Germans just might not get the idea that many Americans actually buy a car as opposed to leasing or getting it as part of a compensation package.

  • avatar
    zznalg

    Segfault: Of course you’re right about a 2 month assessment of reliability. At least no-problems during that time is not a warning sign. Faint praise. I am very guardedly optimistic.

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      I’ve an 09 Passat which has had no problems.  What it will be like in 2019, who knows?  If I had to do it over it’d be a no brainer.  Now, however, I’d spring for an A4.  VW doesn’t seem to have a bright future as far as desirable product goes (with the exception of the GTI, or Golf diesel).

  • avatar
    william442

    We sacrifice a goat a week, and the new Toureg is running fine. It is superior to the ML320 we traded in all but the sneer factor-so far.

  • avatar
    spyked

    I hope I am wrong, as I am, for the record, a “VW guy” – but I predict this latest round of VW’s will scare real VW buyers away while not bringing in more than a handful of Americans that want a Camry. 

    Fact is, American buyers, for all the “research” they do (CR and…CR?), don’t actually pay attention.  They think VW’s are gorgeous and good driving but expenive and unreliable cars.  So they settle for Camrys and Accords while ignoring the millions of recalls, thousands of engine failures and transmission explosions, etc. 

    In the rest of the world, if VW wasn’t the top seller, it was never out of the top 3.  VW’s American buyers have always been willing to PAY for a nicer car.  So now they are taking the Jetta and Passat downmarket and leaving the rest of us with what, a Golf/Eos and some nice SUV’s?  I guess they figure, in America, those of us that want a nice car will to go Audi?

    I hope I’m wrong, as I want to see them stay in the U.S. market, but I also know that if this experiment works, we are simply looking at MORE crap, not less. 

    • 0 avatar
      EChid

      It isn’t just about CR ratings or ignoring Japanese issues, for both of your points are true (I won’t buy 1999 to 2003 auto V6 Hondas for that reason), it is about the number and seriousness of the problems. I was so convinced on buying a 2.0T Jetta, and went online to VWVortex to research it. A couple hours later and I knew I couldn’t. That engine was having problems no modern engine should be having, and requiring ridiculous amounts of attention and maintenance just to keep from burning oil. The Passat’s were apparently have the same issue with the 2.0t, and were even destroying whole VR6 engines. Not to mention the unbelievable issues with the DSG transmission. Owners signing on with $7000 repair quotes!?! Yes, the Japs have issues, but they are mostly small, and quickly solved. THAT is the difference.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      VW enthusiasts are already voicing their dislike about the blandness of this car. They’ve already voiced dislike about the new Jetta, too. But, the new Jetta is selling better than the old one did. The enthusiasts may not like it, but perhaps VW is not wrong if their objective is to sell more cars.
       
      I have a 2006 Jetta TDI which I am now planning to keep for as long as possible. (It has been reliable, by the way.) My dad has a 2011 Golf TDI and I’d take that over the new Jetta in a heartbeat. I hope they keep the original feel of the Golf, even at a premium price tag, and don’t Americanize it …

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not just Consumer Reports.  J.D. Power’s 3-year reliability study places VW near dead last for several years now.
       
       

  • avatar
    amac

    Moan about all you want about “dumbing down for Americans” or “brand equity”. I think the timing is good for a car like this. The economy is uncertain right now and people are looking for value for their dollar more than ever – and most car buyers aren’t enthusiasts. Not very exciting, but it is what it is.
    I tested a Mexican-built 2011 Jetta and a German-built 2011 Golf. The Jetta had leatherette seats and hard plastics, a real “hose-down” interior. The Golf felt more solid, had better materials, better seats and was quieter. It was clear that the Jetta’s gone downmarket. But if you miss the old Jetta, it’s still alive and well as a Golf.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Good braking and handling aren’t just luxuries, they’re safety issues.
      At the very least, I’d never buy a used car with drums or without ABS at this point, and I’d be _very_ wary of a vehicle without 4-wheel independent suspension.  I’d also require LED brake lights and turn signals, as they light faster than bulbs, thus providing additional milliseconds in an emergency situation.
      Incidentally, I REALLY HATE VW’s recent adoption of red lamp turn signals.  Amber turn signals have been proven to be safer:
      http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811115.PDF

  • avatar
    daviel

    I hope VW succeeds.  I just wish I could but a Scirocco.  I had a Scirocco, first edition, and loved it. They should get a new Optima and learn how it was made.
    Plastics: I don’t care about ‘plastics’ – I never have.  I never even noticed ‘plastics’ until I discovered car reviews where that’s all they could talk about.  I call it the feminization of the auto world.  I care about how much car I get for the money, how it drives and performs (will it do what I want it to do?), and whether or not it will hold up.  I will grant Dan his due, but other than that if I never read another word about the plasticity of interiors it will do me just fine.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      And I only said it cause I don’t think that what people really want is too much to ask.  I think it’s foolish to think that dashes need to be soft and leather covered or any of that crap, I’d rather see them spend that money on better seat fabric or on better leather on the seat so it holds up for years.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      You can’t get a Scirocco (alas), but you might still enjoy a GTI.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      As someone who still believes that the best interior of any car I’ve ever owned was my E30 BMW 325is can probably get a good idea on how much I worry about ‘hard plastics’.  That car was stark, but the driving position was excellent, dash layout was wonderful, seats were comfortably supportive, and . . . . . . . well it didn’t hurt how that interior was being moved around.
       
      Second best interior.  My current 924S.  Loses out to the E30 due to being less convenient on ingress and egress.
       
      I’ve always felt that the ‘hard plastics’ bull was more about auto reviewers just having to nit pick everything, and find things wrong so they could show how knowledgeable they were in complaining – especially when the general car was good enough to not have many real complaints.

    • 0 avatar
      0menu0

      Exactly, if I can enter and exit easily and read and operate all the controls efficiently, all I care about besides that is that the interior is tight and quiet over bumps and train tracks. I’ll even go so far as to say I prefer hard plastics for durability reasons.

  • avatar
    LALoser

    I have a somewhat VW question: i am boiling down my next car purchase, and the leaders are: Subaru 2.5 GT Limited, or, Audi A4 2.0T manual. What does everyone think of long-term ownership?…driveline and performance carry more weight than interior decoration.

    • 0 avatar
      spyked

      Well, ask yourself this question:

      How many 40 year old Subaru’s do you see on the road?  Same question for VW’s.

      I personally think all cars will last until the owner stops taking care of them.  The easy test for Euro vs. Asian is to test drive each on the roads you nornally drive.  If it’s low speed stuff, the Subaru might be good if it’s cheap to buy.  If it’s high speed runs, the Audi was designed and built specifically for that.

      All depends on your needs and the money involved.  These days Subaru’s can be almost as expensive as European cars which makes them less attractive.

    • 0 avatar
      william442

      My 2003 Audi A4, auto, was perfect for four years, with multiple drivers. One caveat: It was serviced by Reeves in Tampa. They are the people that fix everything they can find, and give you pizza for lunch.
      Don’t get the very hard riding “Sport Package”.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      I think either would be a good choice.  I recently had a Passat with a 1.8T and a manual, and it was flawless for 300K.  It has recently been replaced with a GTI with the 2.0T and a manual.  That’s a great combo, but it’s too early to comment on its longer term durability (it has a little over 20K on it so far).

    • 0 avatar
      EChid

      Long-term, retained value should be similar. The Subaru won’t be as sporty, more of a cruiser. IMO, even though I own a Subaru, the new Legacy’s are ugly but well built, well appointed and high-quality vehicles. Less snob/douchebag value in the Subie, but for me that would be a plus.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I hope you can afford expen$ive repairs, because both Subaru and Audi come with that feature built-in.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    That is an Accord in the picture isn’t it, right down to the color that 60% of current Accords seem to be?
    I thought VW maxed out on bland with the new Jetta.

  • avatar

    Oh boy, another boring car with a craptastic inferior interior. Wait… it’s a re-badged Dodge isn’t it! Hah!

  • avatar

    Oh, MAN!!!
     
    -I QUADRUPLE-FUNFZIG-DAWG-DARE YOU Piech, to make them name it, “The Volkswagen Much-Cheaper-Plastics” instead of “Passat”, for the NA market!!! :P

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Traditional VW enthusiasts will probably hate it, but VW may end up having the last laugh. Most Subaru enthusiasts have hated their recent design direction, and what happened? Sales. People actually buy Subarus now.

  • avatar
    mhadi

    All the whining- do you want European-quality interiors and mechanical excellence? How about you pay European prices for this?
    The arrogance of Americans who believe they are entitled to get the best for nothing. Here’s a wake-up call – you are fast becoming irrelevant. The Chinese who will pay dearly and gladly are more important – they get the good cars.

    As to the commenter (KitaIki) who tried to make a point of the grandeur of American industry, do you think Walmart, McDonalds, and *gasp* Phillip Morris is something to be proud off?
    I applaud Volkswagen for giving Americans what they deserve.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    VW had better copy Hyundai’s warranty if they want another shot at decent US market sales.
    Too many people have been burned by the VWs of the past few decades.
     

    • 0 avatar

      John, I totally agree.  VW needs to follow Hyundai.  Extending the warranty will ease consumer minds about expensive repairs that may be needed in the future.
      VW could make the NMS with all of the same features coming out of cars in Germany, but using cheaper American labor and parts.  Problem is, VW has not established a relationship wtih parts makers in the US to replicate what is coming out of Germany (soft dashboards, independent rear suspensions).  Granted, certain parts (Bosch’s Direct Injection systems, etc.) would still need to come from Germany.
      VW has to make a choice.  Follow the path from the 80’s, where they burn American buyers with unreliable vehicles…or, produce class leading vehicles cheaply in the US.

  • avatar
    ern35

    My question to Volkswagen:  “Please give me ONE compelling reason for buying one of your cars?”
    Answer from Volkswagen:  “We know what’s right!”
    —so there!
     

  • avatar
    colin42

    I’m more interested in the rumors of the microbus concept being designed on this chassis and built in north america.

    The market is lacking campers, I’m not interested in RV’s that get 5mpg

    The eurovans has the weekend package that added a roof tent and cost about $3000 – those vehicles are now worth about $10000 more than the none “pop top” version

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    I have never been a fan of VW and have considered them long a “one trick pony” [the original Bug].

    Their reliability has been suspect since the FWD/watercooled changeover and the Rabbits were no prizes in quality whether built in Germany or the US. There was a reason US sales went from half a million in the 70s to under 100,000 in the 90s. People dislike being burned.

    However: this NMS is clean and good looking and unlike the overwrought Sonata will look good 10 years from now. The Hyundai will look like a a 58 Buick did in 1968: a ghastly reminder of an over the top period of styling that quickly became dated.

    I give VW credit for attempting to hold the line on prices and showing some restraint in styling their cars. Maybe a simpler, less complicated car will result in greater reliability. They have my attention now. I’ve never been able to see VW as any more than a purveyor of inexpensive quirky cars. This attempt upscale has been lost on me though it has been going on for years since the last Beetle left the factory.

    Perhaps they need to re-visit their roots in the high quality, low cost arena and give up trying to be Audi.

    Wait till the NMS is out and in the hands of the public before trashing the thing…. but I think many on here are right: dumbing down for “American tastes” is a cynical way to develop a product.

  • avatar
    daviel

    I’d love to see a new VW bus.  I owned the first two iterations and will buy the new one.

  • avatar
    DarkSpork

    It’s been said a dozen times, but what’s killing VW in the United States is reliability. A lot of Americans wants a car where they can just change the oil and never have a problem with it. In this sense VW needs to make their cars morel like the Camry/Accord. Don’t ruin everything nice about a VW. Would I buy a VW if it offered the same reliability is a Civic/TSX? Hell yes. VWs are great cars to drive (when they aren’t having any problems), and the purchase price would be reasonable for what you get if it offered the same reliability you generally get with Honda/Toyota.
    The hyundai argument is absolutely valid. I’d bet that Hyundai would have left the states or be leaving soon if they cheapened their cars instead of working to make them more reliable. The decision to make long warranties standard and make the cars more reliable has clearly paid off for Hyundai.
    If VW takes away the redeeming qualities of their cars they will lose market share. They need to over-engineer the components in their vehicles, torture test them; make them ready for American use. Also, stop building cars in Mexico/Brazil for American use. Build them in Germany, or build them here. From what I’ve seen, if you have two of the same make and model of vehicle; one built in the states, one built in Mexico and treat the two vehicles the same, the Mexican built vehicle is likely to have more problems.
    If VW keeps the handling of their cars and makes them Honda/Toyota reliable, I’ll be first in line to buy a new Golf when I’m ready to buy my next car. Otherwise, I’ll stick with Honda/Ford.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    People that own Porsche and Audis expect astronomical repair bills while VW owners are shocked for some reason. They see a cute car that’s cheap to buy, so it must be cheap to repair too…

  • avatar
    spyked

    I suppose VW could extend their warranty…but why?  Again, long warranties are for Korean brands.  At this point, if I want a soft car for American-sized butts with a long warranty, I’ll buy a Hyundai or a Camry.  VW is throwing the baby out with the bathwater here.  The excellent (and very reliable) MKV Jetta/Golf (Jetta made in Mexico, Rabbit/Golf made in Germany, both equally good) were selling well and getting very good reviews.  But they were expensive to make.  So they have decontented and used crappy parts on the Jetta and left the Golf alone (still built in Germany) and we’ll see if they sell MORE Jettas or less.  Saving money on building a car is great ONLY if people buy them. 

    • 0 avatar
      Zombo

      ”  The excellent (and very reliable) MKV Jetta/Golf (Jetta made in Mexico, Rabbit/Golf made in Germany, both equally good) were selling well and getting very good reviews. ”
       
      ?????????????? Please post a link to some article or review that says these cars are reliable after a few years of ownership . Everything I’ve read or heard says they are most definitely NOT anything of the kind !

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      “Again, long warranties are for Korean brands.”
      No, long warranties are needed for brands which have earned a reputation for killing the customer with repair costs once the two year or so factory warranty has expired.
      The MKV Jetta has never been a big seller in the US. VW is selling less than 20% of the volume in the US these days as it once did. No one should consider that a win.
       

    • 0 avatar
      spyked

      Open any issue of CR – not only are MKVs reliable, but they are “recommended.”  Mind you, I don’t put any stock in CR, but the people that buy Hondas and Toyotas do and certainly only buy ToyOndas based on CR, so why not look at all the ratings?  I mean, what other reason would someone pick a Honda or Toyota over ANYTHING else in the segment unless it’s for perceived reliabilty? 

      The MKVs have also been on the C&D Ten Best list since they came out.  And most importantly, literally a MILLION of them (Golfs/Jettas) are on the roads of the world, serving duty as family cars, taxis, delivery vehicles, and track cars.  People in much less “refined” places choose them for this reason.   

  • avatar
    Robbie

    This is a terrible analysis. VW is a major world player with a huge volume of cars sold by focusing on vehicles (Passat, Golf) that sell well the whole world over, except for the US, where low gas prices and high incomes require different vehicles. Their strategy of focusing on their core strength and treating the US market as an afterthought has been incredibly successful.

  • avatar
    spyked

    I know that a long warranty makes some people feel safe, but I don’t think VW should be pandering to those customers.  It’s a false economy for the buyer.  No matter how long the warranty, if you don’t take care of your cars, the mfgr won’t honor the claim.  And let’s face it – the cars that break down are cars that aren’t taken care of.  It would also be a PR nightmare for VW when they decline people’s claims because the engine sludged up due to lack of an oil change.  That, or they will honor the claims and be in no better place, financially.  

    I guess we’ll know in a couple of years if this experiment is going to work for VWoA.  

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      ” And let’s face it – the cars that break down are cars that aren’t taken care of. “
      Ah, if only that were true. VW’s infamous coil pack issues had nothing to do with customer maintenance. VW’s engine sludge problem in certain 4 cylinder turbo Passats afflicted thousand of vehicles which had been dealer serviced by-the-book. VW, Honda and others have at times put dodgy automatic transmissions in their vehicles which failed early and failed often even when owners did everything asked of them.
       
       

  • avatar
    ajla

    Instead of these dumbed down cars, here is what VW should do for the North America market: Suzwagens.
     
    Complete with bad MS Paint editing!

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    Always like to read these posts when it concerns VW. It is suprising how many are posting with so called facts that VW’s are so costly to repair and are always in the shop and that the dealers are so bad. From my own experenses i have brought both new and used approx 14 VW’s and received very good service from them. I admit i do my own service and repairs if required but in the end i have always received great service from my VW’s. I have also owned a few Toyotas, Honda, & Mazda’s and american cars and have always gotten great service from the European cars. To be honest replacements parts are cheaper for american cars but Toyotas, Honda & Mazda can be quite costly. My tale of woe with two Mazdas that i purchased for my wife i will not repeat but i will never buy an another Toyoda, Honda or Mazda. Talk about dealers they are the pits. My father in law was taken over the coals so badly by a Toyota dealer that i had to get involved to settle the matter. After leaving the dealer i had to go home and take a shower to get rid of the smell. Calling a VW dealer bad after these bandits is like calling the pot calling the kettle black. We just traded in my wifes 2003 Volvo V40 that never gave us a minute of trouble for a new Volvo C30 that she is quite pleased with. A great little car. I am driving a 2009 VW TDI that runs great. Great mileage, nice power and a really nice car. One type of VW’s that i keep away from are the ones that are owned by kids with really loud radios and various speed equipment. These cars can be a nightmare to keep on the road.             

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    I prefer the NMS over the Euro-PASSAT.  When everyone is trying flaming surfacing and fluid sculpture, a plain, boxy design is actually distinctive.  Better get the base model steelie wheels too and remove the plastic wheel covers.  Black-painted steelies are cool when everyone else has blinding chrome-clad “Dubs.”


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