By on July 5, 2012

Volkswagen is on track to have their best year in America since 1973 – and all it took was a revamped product lineup that got largely negative reviews from the automotive press.

Sales for the first half of 2012 are up 35 percent versus the same time-frame in 2011. June sales were up 34 percent versus 12 months ago. Sales of the Passat are at an all-time high, with the TDI accounting for 21 percent of the mix. Dealers apparently can’t get enough TDIs to fill demand, and VW is hoping to bring more of the engines from their plant in Poland to the Chattanooga, Tennessee factory. Year to date, sales of the Passat are up nearly 25,000% according to independent analyst Timothy Cain. Sales of the Jetta are also strong, capturing the 14th best-selling car spot in America so far, ahead of the Kia Optima and Chrysler 200. So much for being one of the biggest flops of 2011.

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48 Comments on “Volkswagen Passat Sales Up 25,000 Percent During VW’s Best Year Since 1973...”


  • avatar
    FuzzyPlushroom

    Evidently that’s a white one, as if I couldn’t tell at a glance.

    It’s good to see that so many of these are TDIs now. Hopefully it’ll encourage more Americans to consider fuels other than gasoline. I’d like to see a wagon version, of course, but that’s just pickiness. ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      Aaron Whiteman

      I was in Scotland for a week and a half and the rental car was a right hand drive manual TDI Passat Wagon (stripper version).

      For being the holy grail of TTAC car wants (aside from the right hand drive bits), I was torn. The TDI is brilliant, the wagon is comfortable, the clutch quite nice, and the transmission was terrible. I was still shifting into the wrong gear (5th instead of 3rd, etc) when I returned it after driving half of a 600 mile journey.

      On Scottish roads, it felt huge and heavy. On the motorway, it was a dream even without cruise control.

      • 0 avatar
        W.Minter

        Unfortunately the USDM Passat doesn’t have much in common with the EUDM Passat. High tech nannies not available, cheaper plastics, downgraded suspension. But price and warranty are much better.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        The title of this article is both sensationalistic and misleading, given that there really wasn’t a “Passat” sold in the U.S. in 2011, but rather a very expensive and not-even-bothered-to-be-marketed “CC.”

        I’m merely calling a spade a spade, DK.

        VW is on track to sell roughly 120,000 Passats this year, if the numbers hold. That’s good, but not Camry, Accord, or Fusion ‘good.’

        I will obviously (being the objective person that I am) agree that VW is doing a good job at growing its U.S. sales, by redesigning its two volume sellers to be in more accord (*ahem*) with the needs, wants and means of the typical U.S. buyer.

        When the 2.5 Passat automatic can be leased for $219 per month with $0 due at signing, and the Jetta automatic 2.0 can be leased for $179 on $0 down sign and drive (both 36 month leases), there’s the biggest clue yet as to why these cars are selling in what is still a very embattled economy.

        Price sells, baby, and it’s a price point economy.

        That the Passat and Jetta are either the largest or near-largest (interior room) vehicles in their respective classes is the deal closer for so many people shopping this category and price point.

        It doesn’t hurt that the age of the average U.S. vehicle on the road is at a record high (just over 10 years old), but that’s not taking credit away from VW’s success, as it’s an opportunity available to all automakers, most of whom have not been able to leverage it to as great as effect as VW.

        It’s still going to be very interesting to see what happens when a ton of off-lease Jettas and Passats come off lease over the next few years, in terms of residuals.

        But if increasing sales was the goal, VW nailed these two cars in the North American market based on design and price.

    • 0 avatar
      vent-L-8

      This car could end up doing more harm to the cause of diesel availability than the Cadillac/Olds 5.7L. It has been my experience that European designed cars are very unforgiving of anything less than meticulous maintenance (e.g. not just regular oil changes but replacing pricy widgets at a certain time or milage) failure to do so leads to profoundly expensive repairs. Even more pricy I would expect with a hard to work on clean diesel. With this low a buy-in cost I suspect that the pick-n-pulls will have ample examples in a few years.

      • 0 avatar
        Carrera

        Well that’s the thing. This car was designed from the get go with U.S in mind. By simplifying it (cheapen it) they are trying to avoid the “european vehicle image” with thousands of innovative features that can go wrong at any time down the road and be very expensive to fix. They are trying to copy the Japanese model and so far, at least with the Passat they are succeeding. I know all the stories about how terrible the VWs are and that all mechanical nightmares are made with VW ingredients, but I think this time, for the TN plant things will be different. As for the dealers’ reputation…that’s another story. When I’ll purchase another car in 3-4 years, the Passat TDI is at the top of my list…unless Mazda brings the diesel in USA…that could change things drastically.

      • 0 avatar
        Manic

        Well, I have driven latest Euro-Passat over a year now, 10k miles and thought that maybe dealership wants to check the car at least once a year, but no, “come in when display says so” they said. I had to add a bit of motor oil however, to tame the oil level light.

      • 0 avatar
        TOTitan

        I have a 2012 TDI and here’s the extent of the ” meticulous maintenance (e.g. not just regular oil changes but replacing pricy widgets at a certain time or milage”:

        Every 10,000 miles change the oil with a VW spec 507 rated oil
        Every 40,000 miles change the DSG transmission fluid
        Every 80,000 mile change the timing belt

        Thats it. Not to complicated I think

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    Just wait until most of these cars reach 40k miles or so. I believe the expression is something along the lines of feces flogging the flabellum.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      I got a 2011 Jetta TDI wagon 39,000 in 10 months and so far no issues at all, It seems you either get a good one with very little issues or a POS according to the VW boards.

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        I’m in the market for a car and the VW TDI has me very interested but I’m having a hard time overlooking the VW/dealer rep. I am surprised at the number of late model(10s and 11s) TDIs on the market here in Utah both at dealers and private.

        My question is, why are people trading/selling these cars so early in their life? I would think people buying the TDIs would be thinking long term.

    • 0 avatar
      CrapBox

      I have a 2007 Rabbit with 82,000 miles and it’s been faultless.

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        We have an ’06 Rabbit/Golf with about the same mileage(2.5 4dr six speed autobox) , just replaced the second blower resister, under warranty, but everything else is super. Love the car.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      That’s nice and I am happy for all of you, but I go by data and not luck of the draw.

  • avatar
    uscgto

    TDi Passat – manual – is a bitch to find.

    Makes me wonder if I need to order one.
    Also don’t expect any discounts. most VW dealers actually had some kinda mark up on TDis.

    Also, a loaded TDi Passat – costs more than 32k.

  • avatar

    Did analyst Timothy Cain report (or even realize) that there was no 2011 Passat? They skipped a model year in anticipation of the new car. During the first half of 2011 VW dealers had virtually no Passats to sell, with the 2012s trickling in towards the end of the period.

    Update: I now see that the cited source is simply a chart, with no interpretation or editorializing with regard to the Passat.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    See? The cute Darth Vader kid really did have the Force with him!

  • avatar
    JMII

    My brother just bought a white VeeDub… but he got a Golf R. Previously he owned a Golf R32 (in silver) and Passat (in white). Glad to see TDIs are selling maybe some will encourage other oil burning options.

  • avatar
    JSF22

    Does anyone have any idea how many were fleet? I don’t see too many new Passats without rental car bar codes.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      I’ve seen Hertz Local with some gas Passats, and Hertz Airport in L.A. has a few(Almost if you can think of it, as far as selection, Hertz L.A. probably has it), but most of the new Passats I’ve seen here(NE) and L.A. are privately owned, and I’ve seen a lot of them on the road. I saw one Passat SEL TDi one night, thought it was an Audi until I got closer to it. Pretty sharp.

  • avatar
    jellybean

    VW had a solid plan. Well implemented. Huge success. After all, it’s about selling cars and making money. In North America you have to appeal directly to North American tastes. Sedans have become people moving appliances, roomy, good gas milage etc. Passat and Jetta hit all the right notes, plus great lease rates. Up here in Canada they’re selling/leasing like hotcakes too. The hell with those silly VW fans who like quirky cars, they’re unlikely to buy the new Jetta or Passat. But there’s the Golf and the Beetle to pacify them.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Boy, them there VW techs are gonna be putting in for a lot of overtime in the next few years.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Job security…

      And it’s win/win for VW if people lease to avoid out of warranty failure. Sell the same car twice!

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      It sounds like VW is pulling a Toyota.

      Make cars that have the apppearance of having high (initial) build quality and then in a year strip 30% off the price (and therefore 30% off of the QUALITY), while still selling your vehicle on that high quality, since people in America are too stupid to realize there’s a reason every vehicle in every segment is going up in price, and VWs are mysteriously going WAY down in price…

      Toyota does the same thing, except they prey on people’s recollection of 1995 and “superior quality” (when in reality pretty much every vehicle, with the only exceptions I can think of all costing 6+ figures, were crap in the 90′s) of the Toyota Camry down the road compared to their head gasketed Taurus. Fast forward to 2012, there’s no difference in reliability between a Toyota Avalon and a Ford Taurus, or a Toyota Camry and a Ford Fusion, but shhhhh – don’t tell grandpa!

  • avatar
    86er

    I don’t fault Buick at all for building this new Century. It’s exactly what its target market is looking for.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      Wait, the only thing in common between the last-gen Century and this new Passat is they’re both bland and anony…. oh, wait. I see your point.

      Can a car be boring and still be ugly at the same time?

  • avatar
    mjz

    The secret is in the sizing. The Jetta is a C-segment (Focus, Cruze)but sized (at least appearance wise) like a D-segment (Fusion, Malibu). The Passat is a D-segent with the larger appearance of an E-segment (Taurus, Impala).

  • avatar
    swilliams41

    Reduce the sophistication of the car and Americans will buy it, hmmmmmm, I drive a B6 Passat. I didn’t buy it because it was the most reliable in it’s class, I bought it because I like driving. It’s the 3.6, lots of go.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Well, as long as VW still offers the Golf, GTI, GLI, Sportwagen, and CC, they can play both sides of the market. To my inexperienced mind, it doesn’t sound like a bad business plan.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I just had an 8-day rental of a 2.0l 2012 Jetta in GA. Complete stripper, the only option on the car was the 6spd slushbox. Boring? Yup. But also felt like it was carved from a solid block of granite, had nice seats, was quiet, arctic A/C (and it was black on black) and even with the 2.sl0 was adequately rapid as long as you drove it foot to the floor. An INFINITELY nicer place to be than a Corolla or a Civic, and a whole bunch roomier too. And cheap as chips.

    Passat is the same thing, one size larger. Bound to sell a gazillion of them. Just what the average American wants, big, bland, but vaguely premium looking.

    • 0 avatar
      jellybean

      Yes, my point exactly. Most folks these days want just that. They don’t really care about styling as long as it’s contemporary. They don’t care about drivability, as long as it’s competent on the freeway. Guys like me and most of you who like ‘driving’, have to look elsewhere.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Don’t get me wrong, it was perfectly nice to drive – and my daily driver is a ’11 3-series. Good steering feel, good brakes, soft riding but well damped. It drives like a German car. Not a sports sedan by any means, but if you want that you can spend another $10K and get a Jetta GLI. Leagues ahead of a Corolla, even with the 2.0. Reminded me very, very much of my even MORE base-model ’85 Jetta 2dr that I had for the first couple years of college.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Frankly the simplicity and affordability of that strippo Jetta makes it strangely appealing to me. Get the stick shift and I’m pretty sure I would snap one up over a Civic, Corolla, Sentra, and even Elantra if I were shopping the price point. The backseat and trunk are huge if that’s important.

    • 0 avatar
      pdq

      @krhodes1: “and even with the 2.sl0 was adequately rapid as long as you drove it foot to the floor.”

      I would think that having to put your foot to the floor all the time to get adequate acceleration would get old – and it would probably lead to early mechanical problems. What kind of mileage did you get out of it when you drove it that way?

  • avatar

    Doesn’t this car come in a plain white box with the word ‘Generic’ on the side of it?

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    So many miss the obvious, lower prices got people to showrooms.

    But, all the ‘enthusiast items’ used to break easily, so simplicity and low price are the deal makers.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    This is another reminder of how regional car sales really are. Growing up in an insipid college town, I wouldn’t have believed VW’s sales were a third now what they were in the late ’70s through late ’80s. Where I live now, they seem to be out sold by Porsche.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      VW seems to be stuck in an endless boom-bust cycle in the US. Once a generation or so, they hit on some formula to sell lots of cars, then they let those cars rot on the vine and the long-term reliability issues sour all those buyers for life. After a decade or so of languid sales, they’ll hit on another sales bonanza for a new crop of buyers. Wash, rinse, repeat.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Ah! VW might have simplified the package but you still get to buy solidly a engineered body and well sorted out suspension. This I believe is the secret to the success. The under the skin engineering that you don’t see but you can feel on the road.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    I’ve been waiting for VW to regain their lost formula. You know, don’t try to be the most technical car company, just build a solid product- or two- and get a little better every year. Back in ’73, they sold all the cars they could make. And those cars were no technical marvels, quite the opposite.

  • avatar
    dts187

    I know this is about the Passat, which I haven’t sat in or drove, but I guess I don’t get the complaints about the Jetta. The material quality went down but so did the price. I just recently picked up a GTI and while at the dealer I nosed around in a Jetta with the 5cyl. The seats were good. The interior had a clean, almost sophisticated look. The materials are a step down but still on par with or better than others in this price range. The exterior is bland but the detail in the tail lights almost makes up for it.

    I could see hating on VW for taking the Jetta downmarket but the car itself seemed like a pretty good value for the money.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    In other VW articles, lot of owners come out of the woodwork in the comments complaining about their miserable experiences with VW quality and claiming that they’ll never buy another one. I remember one writer/commenter asking if VW would have a lost generation of buyers who swore off them like the American car makers seem to have from the 80′s. Doesn’t seem to be causing an issue here though. For VW’s sake, better hope the cars are working well.

  • avatar
    Meghu

    Nice Post. Volkswagen Passat comes with multiple new features.Performance is very strong and also gives superb ride. They have very good features such as optimized gear ratios, brake energy recuperation, gear shift indicator, and auto start-stop. Passat have design is superb of this car makes more attractive. http://www.bestautoline.com/


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