By on December 17, 2013

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Despite giving the old college try for decades, Volkswagen is still confounded by the lack of cachet their namesake brand holds among the hearts and minds of many an American. With VW of America CEO Jonathan Browning stepping down and returning to the United Kingdom at the end of this year, the Wolfsburg automaker hope one of their own, successor Michael Horn, will be able to finally crack the code of success in the United States.

Volkswagen AG has set a goal of selling 800,000 units in the U.S. by 2018 with a strategy of four vehicles built to American tastes. With eight consecutive months of losses due to poor sales of the current lineup, the automaker has their work cut-out for them. According to insiders and U.S. dealers, Horn’s experience with the culture on the German side could be just what is needed to help determine a proper course of action with the American market.

In addition to knowing how to communicate to his bosses in Wolfsburg in a manner Browning never could, Horn also brings product development experience to the table, helping to launch the Touraeg and Phaeton as head of sales and marketing of VW’s premium units. The aforementioned strategy has already been implemented in part, with redesigns of both the Jetta and Passat, but no green light has been given to the remaining two vehicles, a compact and a midsize SUV. Horn’s voice could make all the difference in bringing the SUVs to market, especially if they are aimed at Toyota and Honda customers instead of BMW and Lexus.

For now, Horn and VW of America COO Mark McNabb will together oversee the launch of the next-generation Golf and its variants in the automaker’s Puebla, Mexico factory. The hatchback will go on sale this coming spring.

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216 Comments on “Volkswagen Looks Within to Solve “The American Problem”...”


  • avatar
    Tosh

    Enthusiast VW customers wonder where their Scirocco is, and every car maker can use a halo car.

    • 0 avatar
      Stumpaster

      Screw enthusiasts, VW needs new car buyers!

      • 0 avatar
        Tosh

        Right, VW would use the Scirocco as a halo car to draw in new Golf customers, while screwing the enthusiast who wants an expensive Scirocco. VW win-win…
        I’m the last person to defend VW, and frankly I think they should abandon the US market. But if you’re not going to offer the best product you have (Scirocco) to a country that understands big fast sports-luxury cars, then why bother even trying?

        • 0 avatar
          whynot

          The best product VW has is arguably the Phaeton (despite it’s age) or the XL1, not the Scirocco. Which is also not big, not really any faster than it’s competition (in fact it is quite pedestrian with most of its engines), and not a luxury car.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          How is the Scirocco a big fast sports-luxury car? It’s a Golf in less practical clothes, and IIRC in Europe it is actually cheaper than a GTI. Here it would just steal sales from the GTI, which being Hecho en Mexico, is cheaper to build.

          I’d still like to see it just because, but it is not exactly a money-spinner.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I didn’t get that either. The term big and luxury can rarely be applied to two-door cars these days.

            Like maybe a Brooklands, or a CL.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            If they’re worried about loosing sales to the GTI then why do they make the Jetta GLI?

            The GLI is not only a grand less than a GTI, but its also basically the same car and it has a whopping extra 10hp!!!

          • 0 avatar
            whynot

            They also barely market the GLI (note how VW basically treats the GTI as a separate model), and it is a sedan versus a hatchback which matters with some people.

            The lack of strong/distinct marketing is ok with the GLI because it is lumped with the rest of the Jetta lineup, but the Scirocco would have to stand on its own in a way that doesn’t steal from the Golf/GTI.

          • 0 avatar
            Tosh

            It’s in the ‘sports-luxury’ class, and it’s half an inch wider and two inches lower than a Golf and appears much more sleek and aggressive.
            The point was that the USA is about cheap gas and open roads, and the Scirocco is the most suitable VW for that, but VW can’t be bothered. (And you can’t sell a Phaeton in a nasty VW dealership…)

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Halo cars do not work. Nobody goes to a Nissan dealership to check out a GT-R, and then leaves with a Versa. The only reason to bring the Scirocco over is to sell it… not “lure customers”.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      The Scirocco is a good car, but no where near good enough to be halo car worthy. It is also about 5 years old. Just because it is not available in the US or it is very expensive, which the Scirocco isn’t, doesn’t mean it is some fantastic, out of this world car that blows everything else out of the water.

      • 0 avatar
        LeeK

        Correct. A US Scirocco would sell in about the same quantity as the Acura TSX wagon, ie in miniscule amounts.

        Volkswagen needs new, competitive product where the buyers are: the red-hot CUV market. The Tiguan is a fun little ute to drive, but its small size and relative expense makes it lose to the CR-V, RAV4, CX-5, and Escape. The Touareg is a very decent vehicle. Its Q7 and Cayenne sisters outsell it by a wide margin because VW does not have the brand cache to carry it off at its price point.

        There will be a new American market CUV in the next two years, probably looking very similar to the Cross Blue concept seen at the various auto shows last year. Whether it has the right stuff to compete with the Honda/Toyota/Nissan/Mazda/Ford juggernaut is a question.

        The Passat isn’t a bad vehicle — it’s just not as good as the Fusion, Accord, Altima, and Mazda6 have become. The Jetta has been upgraded with the new 1.8T engine and a fully independent rear suspension. In the college town/affluent area I live in, you see a lot of new Jettas on the road. Jetta Sportwagens are a niche product that does well with the professor set. Beetles and Golfs are pretty rare.

        Finally, I am beginning to sound like a broken record on this, but VW’s overall quality level has been measurably improving. They are no longer in Consumer Reports’ cellar (now occupied by Mini, Chrysler, Ford, and Land Rover) and have been clawing their way steadily upward to mid-pack. Audi is now in the Top Ten. But my goodness some of the posters here won’t let their troubles with late 90s and early 00s VWs go unpunished.

        • 0 avatar
          wmba

          Well, my goodness me. My best friend’s 2010 Golf/Jetta Sportwagen has in the last six months broken a front spring (90% highway miles), has some light or other to do with the DPF glowing brightly that VW won’t fix under the 4 year warranty, and yesterday, in a coup-de-grace that caused much hilarity, the rear hatch wiper upon starting, decided to do a 180 and wipe the metal under the window, with the tip trying mightily to scrub the salt off the license plate. Excellent quality.

          • 0 avatar
            LeeK

            That’s a data point for one car. I can counter your story with my co-worker’s Camry that was so bad he invoked the Lemon Law after a year. You have to look at the aggregate statistics for the brand. By all industry measurements, VW is up from the well deserved bottom place they dwelled in during the dreadful Mark IV Golf/Jetta/Passat/New Beetle/Touareg era.

          • 0 avatar
            jpolicke

            They have to fix/repair the DPF up to 80,000 miles under the emissions warranty. As I learned when mine failed at 75k.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            There’s a reason reliability statistics exist, wmba. Anecdotal evidence is powerful for the individual experiencing it, but for everyone else large sample sizes are far more useful.

          • 0 avatar
            TheDoctorIsOut

            For each dissatisfied customer there has to be at least one that is satisfied and that would be me, in this case an owner of an ’09 Jetta Sportwagen TDI with more than 80,000 trouble free miles. The only out of the ordinary repair has been a pinched drain hose from the sunroof which I believe to be due to a bungled job by the dealer from after they installed the Bluetooth microphone but that’s been the only surprise. My wife subsequently bought a Passat this summer based on my experience and while it has so far been trouble free the signs of cheapened materials abound, but the dealers remain idiots.

      • 0 avatar
        dr65

        My family leased a 2011 Passat . Yes, it’s pretty boring…but compared to a Camry it’s much more interesting. The 2.5 engine is a real snoozer but the car feels solid and drives very smoothly. The seats are are great for my 6’5 height, radio set-up and A/C are terrific. After 29,000 miles we’ve had no problems. The lease was CHEAPER than a Camry or Accord! My son drives the car at college and I feel it’s a much safer car than the Camry. My 2 cents.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, the Scirocco would certainly eat into sales of the Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra coupes…problem is, not many people are buying those, and the only people salivating for a new Scirocco are VW fans. I don’t see this as a solution.

      What VW REALLY needs is a reasonably priced small and medium sized SUV. They also need to stop the dumbing down of the Passat and Jetta lines.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Yes, this. Sell us the same brand quality you sell to Germans and people in the UK. Don’t thin it out and add cheap panels and then try to appeal to the semi-premium American.

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        First, as the Scirocco is trimmed in Germany, it would sell for about $10,000 above the Elantra 2dr and Civic 2 dr here in the States. Trimwise it’s a step above GTI.

        Second, the demographic that favors two door Civics, Golfs, and possibly Elantra pays a hefty premium in insurance compared to an equivalent four door model. My 22 year old son couldn’t swing the premium, and chose a four door instead.

        Finally, someone wished that the Golf Mk VI was still built in Germany, as previous models like Rabbit were. As far as I can tell, it still is West German, though I know VW wants to shift production to Mexico for the next Mk VII Golf model. For those with a Mk VI, check the first digit of the VIN. If it’s a ‘W’, it’s German, if it’s a ’3′, it’s assembled in Mexico.

        • 0 avatar
          vwgolf420

          The Golf Vi for the US market was built in Wolfsburg. Every single Golf VI will have a VIN strting with W. All Golf Vs (sold here as Rabbits) for the US market were also sourced from Germany. Incidentally, All current Sciroccos are built in Portugal alongside the Eos and the Euro market’s minivan.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Call to Germany: OK, Boss, we got the frumpy, we got the roomy, now we need to build nice cars, fun but not in a German kind of fun.

  • avatar

    Seems like not having Toyota-esque reliability was always VW’s Achilles Heel. But instead of tackling that aspect, VW simply made their offerings blander and cheaper. Great landing, wrong airport.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      I agree with that assessment 100%. Many times have I been tempted by the GTI, GLI, Toureg while car shopping. However, I have always viewed VW as eurotrash and have just been unwilling to take a chance on the subpar reliability. So now, in addition to the reliablity drawback, they decontent thier cars, adopt bland design reminiscent of last gen Hyundais and Kias. Someone at VW got the idea that Americans want cheap, bland cars. VW has delivered, whith shoddy quality to boot.

      • 0 avatar
        luvmyv8

        A few years ago, I was tempted by the new Jetta GLI with a manual as well….. but VW’s reputation, only having 200 hp and VW’s absurd parts pricing took it off the list.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The 200 HP is more than adequate. That engine is underrated in the HP department too. If you really need more power, the aftermarket has plenty of cheap options.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      The “Achilles Heel” is supposed to be the only weakness of a great warrior.

      In VW’s case, it’s not a great warrior and reliability is not its only weakness.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      Exactly. Big sales are a long term thing, which needs to be supported by reliability. Piss on your customers long enough and they won’t come back.

      I have been tempted by VW options, but the cheap interiors and the historic lack of reliability has pushed me away. It does seem as though they are improving on the reliability front.

      I think Mini is about to go down, due to a bad restyle and poor reliability. My guess is that it’s not a car many folks are going to buy again.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I sat in my sister’s 02 Jetta, and thought “ugh, gross” to all the plastics and creaky things in there. And it smelled like crayons.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Interiors by Crayola. The Germans certainly don’t use the Crayola color palette in their interiors. You get gray and like it.

          • 0 avatar
            84Cressida

            They don’t use Crayola colors, but they sure use the smell. I’ve lost count how many VW’s I’ve been in that smell like Crayons.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            I’ve only noticed the crayons in the trunk of BMWs, not in the cabin.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            It’s funny, I think Audi has less of this issue, especially at the top of the line.

            The interior on my A8 was beautiful, and not drab at all. Parchment leather, velour door panels, darker brown dash, walnut, aluminum, red lighting!

    • 0 avatar
      JSF22

      Mr. Williams, this is the best three sentence explanation I ever have seen of VW’s exact situation.

    • 0 avatar
      olddavid

      Their real problem is they think like Porsche, emulate BMW, and manufacture VW. The panache of being German is lost when purchasing appliances.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    “with a strategy of four vehicles built to American tastes.”
    Try reliable, easy to fix and inexpensive repair parts… I heard Americans have that special weird taste. And try to have mechanics that know how to diagnose a problem without just throwing parts at it at costumers expense.

    • 0 avatar

      “Try reliable, easy to fix and inexpensive repair parts…”

      That’s true, specially the easy to fix and inexpensive. I think part of VW’s problem is that, due to it having a smaller share in the US, many of your local indie shops don’t have the experience and tools needed to get the car fixed the first time. Don’t how VW relates to independent shops in the US, but I think if they focus on that, and the mechanics start doing a better job, the cars’ perceived reliability would go up pretty fast.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        I don’t agree. VW’s US market share is roughly on the same level of Subaru and Mazda. Yet the latter two don’t have a notable problem with repairs.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Are you sure Subaru doesn’t have problems with repairs? All the things I’ve read about their consistent failings put me off of Subaru, even though I WANT to like them.

          Oh and I owned a Subaru, and it had lots of little problems. It was just so cheap, and a winter car, that I didn’t much care.

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            Well they had that little head gasket issue about 10 years ago, but that’s subsided considerably. Otherwise Subaru’s reliability is highly rated

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        “but I think if they focus on that, and the mechanics start doing a better job, the cars’ perceived reliability would go up pretty fast.”

        The cars’ perceived reliability would go up pretty fast if VW can match Hyundai’s warranty coverage.

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          “match Hyundai’s warranty coverage.” I thought they wanted to make a profit.

          • 0 avatar
            wsn

            Hyundai did.

            If Germans are as smart as Koreans, why can’t they replicate that as well?

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Legend has it that at the time the Hyundai Warranty was implemented the CEO told a gathering of the management, engineers, and workforce; “If our quality does not improve significantly, this company will go bankrupt.” (And he meant that as you idiots will all be out of a job, not hopefully the government will bail us out.)

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        VW dealers are now indie shops with no experience?

        The cars fall apart for the simple fact that they’re poorly engineered garbage. VW isn’t some recent start up, they’re a well-known brand that’s been here for over 50 freaking years. Blaming VW’s garbage on mechanics is one of the cheapest cop-outs I’ve seen.

        • 0 avatar

          Man, you need to brush up your reading skills. It was pretty obvious that I was talking about cars out of warranty and that are in the hands of 3rd or 4th owners that don’t darken the doorways of dealers anymore. Those people who drive up the price of your beloved Toyotas. I bet that the small, cheap shops that mess with cars over 8 years of age, are much more prepared to deal with Ford, GM and assorted Japanese cars than VWs. The opposite of what would happen here in Brazil. An over 10 year old Toyota in Brazil does not sell as easily as an old Fiat or VW because many mechanics can’t deal with them, or deal with them badly due to lack of exposure to the cars.

          As to garbage, YMMV.

          • 0 avatar
            84Cressida

            That’s a hugely common misconception. Many older vehicles still go to dealerships, since many people believe, fair or not, that they are the experts on the cars. Many independent shops do have equipment and know how to work on any modern car. The fact that late model VW’s, ones on their first owners, in warranty, and dealer maintained, are still shown to fall flat compared to pretty much everything else, pretty much demolishes your theory.

          • 0 avatar
            Ubermensch

            I always hear the “poor maintenance” argument from VW apologists and it is really not true. My owned since new VW was maintained above and beyond the book and still had tons of issues that were not even remotely maintenance related. They are simply poorly engineered cars made with low quality parts.

            I also go by the opinions of mechanics who work on dozens of different brands and models and I have yet to meet one that doesn’t think VW makes anything worth buying.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Ubermensch-

            You mean the plastic window regualtor clips failing wasn’t because of poor maintenance?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            If you’re too lazy to change your own wiring fluid, then you shouldn’t own a Volkswagen.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            What about the blinker fluid?

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    They can do whatever they want, it won’t help. VW has a horrible reputation, at least with me. The only thing they can do is build reliable cars, without silly mechanical and/or electrical failures, for the next 20 years. then maybe, MAYBE, I would consider a VW.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      No, wrong, says the MBA. You need better marketing, hire funny actors for your commercials and call it all German engineering and it will sell. americans will pay anything as long as it is German. They will make excuses that going to the shop weekly actually is fun “and at lest you look forward to get your car back”

    • 0 avatar
      Waterview

      You’ve nailed it. In addition to questionable reliability, it seems that their offerings are generally more expensive, but don’t offer a clear reason why — where’s the value for money?

      In the late 1970′s, the Rabbit diesel had a cult-like following here in the U.S. Now, I can’t find anyone who owns a VW who’s willing to purchase another. It can’t be a good thing when your customer base is “one and done”.

      • 0 avatar
        Joe McKinney

        This customer retention problem is part of a cyclical, boom and bust pattern which has defined VWOA since the 1970′s. Every 10-15 years or so Volkswagen introduces an attractive new line of cars which sell well at first. Then, after a few years, sales decline sharply when word gets around about all the problems people have had with these cars. Many first-time owners swear off VW forever and their horror stories scare away other potential customers. Afterwards Volkswagen sales will languish for several more years until this pattern repeats with a fresh batch of new first-time buyers. Rather than sustained long-term growth, VWOA is always stuck trying to regain the ground they lost following the last boom and bust cycle.

    • 0 avatar
      galanwilliams

      +1 on the one and done! I was the proud owner of a 1992 Passat – a great car to drive, but constantly plagued by small problems that became big problems due to the service manager at the VW dealership… Herb was his name, Slick was my nickname for him thanks to his dyed jet black hair which was slicked back with what could have been axel grease. He did his best to deflect and divert any responsibility for VW America or his dealership to provide a positive customer experience.

      I’ve nibbled on TDI Passats and Jettas in the past couple years, but the nightmare of the dealership experience has kept me from biting.

      I agree with the many other posts…. I’m just not willing to pay my money and take my chances that Herb and I won’t be seeing a lot of each other once again. I’m a completely pacifist person, but the desire to punch him in the face on multiple occasions makes me wonder how those more prone to fisticuffs didn’t do so.

      Give me a no BS warranty, with a guarantee of a loaner car while you have mine in the shop for about a week to get some part from Germany, and a service writer who at least pretends to be trying to help a customer out, and maybe…

  • avatar
    jmo

    They had the same issue that Honda did with the Civic. They zigged when the market zagged. They went cheap when Ford, Kia, GM went premium.

    Pesonally, I’d build the similar cars in the US and Mexico that they sell in Germany. Without the EUR/USD issue and with lower costs the price point would be competative. In addition, I’d used the latest in just in time manufacturing to introduce VW’s “Have it your way” program. You tell us exactly what you want and we’ll build it.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Honda made the same mistake, going cheap with the Civic when other “cheap” competitors were moving upscale.

      They swallowed their pride (rare for Japanese) and didn’t let the 2012 Civic’s cheapness carry on for 3 or 4 more years. They corrected it right away.

      VW went cheap, stayed cheap, and is now suffering the consequences. Sure, it boosted sales at first, but it caught up with them in what, 2 years? Civic sales were up for MY2012 too, but Honda foresaw the potential for decline once people started realizing they could get more car for the same (or less) money from the competitors.

      I’m not a shill for Honda by any means, and I’m usually quick to criticize their bone-headed decisions sometimes, but they called it right.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        I think this is a very astute observation: Honda acknowledged and corrected the problem almost immediately. Volkswagen, as usual, is trying to argue that we Americans just don’t get it.

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        First, love the upside down Acura ‘calipers’ logo, V as in vanquished.

        The late model Civic is a poor example. Honda did cheapen the sedan of a couple of years ago, it was duly noted by everyone in the press, and buyers still bought them, almost as though they were zombies marching into dealerships. Couldn’t figure that out.

        The current Passat is still suffering lack of sales in the mistaken belief that its reliability is no better that past Passats and Golfs(by American standards). Nevermind that in Europe, the most prevalent family cars and police cruisers are Golfs, and Camrys and Accords are very rare. So much for wanting what the Europeans drive.

        Personally, I don’t care if the Scirocco ever makes it to the States, neither Honda or Toyota still sell Preludes or Celica’s here. Those buyers have switched their purchases to cars like Honda Civic Si, VW GTI and R, Mazda 3 Mazdaspeed, the Subi/Toy coupes and WRX’s, all of those pretty fun cars.

        And speaking of what new cars Americans are buying, ever notice that there is nary an internet, TV, or magazine ad for VW Golf. Could that be that whatever small numbers of Golfs make it to the States are being sold in numbers that VW America is happy with and doesn’t need to spend advertising dollars promoting?

        • 0 avatar
          hreardon

          Snakebit –

          Well, yes and no. Fact is, you cannot out-Toyota-Toyota and in essence that’s what Volkswagen tried to do with the Passat. Now as usual the truth is somewhere in between and the reality is that VW needed to cheapen the model for the US market and they also needed to simplify it (improve reliability) as well as improve profitability.

          But the fact is, Volkswagen is forgetting that the reason why people always loved the old Passat was that it offered something that none of the other cars in the segment offered. Be it a much nicer interior, great looks, nice handling, etc.

          Now, however, we have an econobox that really doesn’t offer anything over a Camry or Accord and in comparison to the options out there (Fusion, Mazda 6, etc.) really doesn’t stand up. Plus, it’s worth adding again: you cannot out-Toyota-Toyota.

          What VW needed was something along the lines of the Mazda 6 and Ford Fusion. Instead we got the last generation Camry.

          • 0 avatar
            imag

            Toyota was on the path do destroying itself in the same way. People bought them because of the reputation, but the cars they bought had been decontented to such an extent that they were appalling. They were trading long term sales for short term profit – very un-Toyota-like. That was GM’s game.

            Fortunately, Akio Toyoda’s replacement of Ken Watanabe spelled an end to that. I think Toyota is finally recovering from its downward blip. GM seems finally to be righting itself as well.

        • 0 avatar
          Richard Chen

          Buyers have very different preferences across the pond, and corn-fed backsides make a big difference. The Accord seen stateside is not sold in Europe, as it’s too big. The Camry got dropped a decade ago, same problem.

          As said before here, American use of cars is also different, with longer commutes and rougher roads. VW has traditionally done poorly compared with other brands – why take a chance if your car is just another appliance?

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Correct me if I’m wrong, but in Europe aren’t Camry’s sort of taxi-duty level, and the Accord is luxury, and thus more pricy than the Passat?

          Also, the Euro Passat isn’t the same as the US one.

          • 0 avatar
            whynot

            Toyota doesn’t sell the Camry in most (all?) of Europe anymore. The Accord and Passat are generally priced about the same (the Accord starts a little higher but there is plenty of overlap between them).

          • 0 avatar
            Johannes Dutch

            I don’t know if this is the case for Europe as a whole, but the Toyota Camry has been withdrawn from the market here years ago.

            And the Honda Accord is a rarity. I see more Porsches on the road than Accords.

            Sedans are dead here, regardless their size, unless it says Audi, BMW or Mercedes.
            And of course the Passat for the average accountmanager.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    ” with a strategy of four vehicles built to American tastes.”

    This is the problem right here, they don’t have a clue what Americans want, if they did, they would have had a competitive CUV out years ago. Hate CUVs all you want, but that’s what Americans buy

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Isn’t the Tiguan a CUV, or a reasonable resemblance of one?

      • 0 avatar
        eggsalad

        The Tiguan is one of exactly THREE CUVs that have the combination of FWD, stick shift, and a tow rating. That’s the combination I’m looking for, but for about the same price, I can have a Mazda CX-5.

        There’s a no-brainer of a choice, isn’t it?

      • 0 avatar
        whynot

        The key word is “competitive.” The Tiguan is undersized, underperforming and overpriced compared to its competition in the US.

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        Roberto, I just hate it when people like you try to win arguments with…well, the Truth. Yes, what about the Tiguan, seems like a CUV to me, as well. Yes, it cost more than than CX-5, but a new Golf cost more than a Civic, and some buyers don’t care. It’s what you get for your money.

        • 0 avatar
          whynot

          You are right, it is what you get for you money, which is why the Tiguan is failing in the US.

          It costs more than the CX-5, for example, but how is it better than the CX-5? It is smaller, gets far worse fuel economy (21/26 versus 26/35), dated, has similar capabilities, likely less fun to drive, and likely less reliable.

          So what is the premium for? Remember VW is on a quest to be the number 1 automaker worldwide. It doesn’t want to sell just a handful of Tiguans/whatever to diehard VW fans.

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            Not to mention the Tiguan requires premium gas. This frightens off a lot of people.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            Not to mention the Tiguan is significantly uglier than the CX-5. I know looks are subjective, but the Mazda is the first good looking CUV I’ve ever seen.

        • 0 avatar
          wsn

          @snakebit “It’s what you get for your money.”

          Sales suffer when most buyers do realize that they don’t get their money’s worth.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Where’s some farfegnugen when you need it?

  • avatar
    highrpm

    I am personally baffled by VW’s choices. They bring out the new bland Passat which is basically a Camry minus the reliability. Why would anyone buy a car like this?

    VW’s poor reliability is their sales killer. Anyone buying an Audi accepts that there is a tradeoff for owning the Audi prestige. But with VW, you get poor reliability and no prestige at all. What is the point?

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Not to mention that they can’t seem to get any mass appeal going for the Passat over here (I OWN a 1997 which is a blast to drive but generally unreliable, but the new one excites me about as much as buying a blender).

      Example: Dodge Charger TV ad I saw over the weekend. It shows a cloud of dust, out of which emerges a Charger doing donuts in the dirt.

      The audio voiceover: “No kid ever grew up with a picture of a Passat hanging on his bedroom wall.”

      LMAO!!!

  • avatar
    sirwired

    If VW STILL hasn’t green-lit the CUVs VW must have to be competitive in the US, their chances are doomed. They should not, by this point, need any convincing at all.

    And I wouldn’t point to the Phaeton launch as an accomplishment. I know it wasn’t his fault that car was a gigantic money-loser, but it’s not something I’d boast about either.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      I don’t agree. Of course it’s his fault. As the “head of sales and marketing”, he should have talked his boss out the stupid idea of producing the Phaeton. It’s won’t be easy, but then again, why would he be there earning millions, if he can’t do anything more than other people?

  • avatar
    Onus

    Maybe they should stop treating North America like second class citizens.

    • 0 avatar

      Why do you figure that?

      • 0 avatar
        Beerboy12

        Troll.

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        Good question.

        VW doesn’t seem like they want to sell cars here sometimes.

        Things like the next generation golf that will arrive late. I figure they should have started building the Mexico factory earlier than they did.

        Also them not being able to figure out where they are building the crossover they want to bring to the us. Why are they making these decisions so late? I imagine the car is pretty much finished being designed at this point and tooling a factory isn’t the quickest thing to do.

        It seems management is more focused on their major preexisting markets and put little thought into improving markets here other than a good push in 2011.

        You need a constant push new products, designs, features. Now to be truthful vw has replaced the 2.5inline 5 with the 1.8t so that is progress. They also fixed some of the Jetta cheapness by adding back IRS and such.

        But overall it strikes me that they started out with such great fan fair and lost the mojo they had and just sat back and did nothing.

        It could also be they had a good product at the time that just didn’t anticipate future competitors. VW isn’t Toyota they need to get people hooked and give them a reason to stick around

        But, at the end of it all i would probably include vw on my shopping list. I do like the conservative styling if I’m going to be honest and likewise in the interior.

        • 0 avatar

          Thanks for the answer Onus. I get what you said now, but that really is what you get for being a company’s 4th market (Europe, China, Brazil all buy more VWs than the US). I mean people are paying 40k USD for a Beetle or the new Golf…

          Anyway, I agree with you, if VW does want to become a major player in the US, they’ll have to prioritize it.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Crossovers are essential for growth in this market. And, let’s see, Volkswagen’s only crossovers are the undersized, overpriced, and out-of-date Tiguan…and the rugged Touareg, which, while being a great car with a great chassis, can have its appreciated qualities replicated in a Grand Cherokee that costs $15-20K less, or an M-Class, Cayenne or X5 for not much more. Then VW insults its faithful customers with the lackluster NA-only Jetta and Passat (which, mind you, really aren’t so competitively-priced)…*just* as everyone else significantly ups the ante in the compact and midsized segments. They could have done more with the Routan after the 2011 facelift, but chose to give up. Oh, and they’re seriously talking about doing another Phaeton. Really?!

    I like Volkswagen—a lot—but the brand seems to be approaching the American market with half-heartedness and a healthy dose of spite. And that’s not the way to go.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      The problem is that Volkswagen senior management looks at the US market through German-tinted-glasses and gets frustrating when we do not accept their worldview.

      I’m seriously not joking about this. The spite part that you mention I agree with wholeheartedly. The new Passat is a ‘spite’ product: “okay you cheap ‘effin Americans, here’s your blandmobile.”

      Even with stellar reliability these products would be doomed in the current market. The fact is EVERYTHING out there is really good right now. You have to TRY to put out a non-competitive, junk product. Volkswagen, it would seem, is doing everything in their power to accomplish just that.

  • avatar

    Having had an A2 GTI16v, a Scirocco with a Callaway turbosystem, two A1 diesels, and two Jettas (one German one Mexican) in the family, plus a VR6 Passat….and my current ride is a 2012 TDi Golf, manual and 4 doors.

    VW has a unique selling point, but they can’t see it. They are NOT a Camry. You can drive a VW and if they don’t get cheap (beam axles) it will drive like a “driver’s car”. The Autobahn breeding does really make a difference.

    A side to side comparison of the Jettas built in Mexico and the Golfs built in Germany show the Golf to be better constructed. This isn’t to say they could not build the exact SAME car in Mexico…they could but they don’t. The quality of the rubber, the interiors, etc are notably cheaper. Many small touches are missing from the interior. Someone saved pennies in the trunk, etc…and it shows.

    I understand that the US market won’t pay for many of the high end options, like adjustable suspension. Most Americans want an appliance…their car won’t go over 75, ever, and should need zero maintenance, even if an oil change (why do you think maintenance is included for new cars/leases ? It is so they actually get an oil change during the 3 yr lease) Sitting in my tire store and listening to them explain that the squealing is a brake job, to folks who don’t get it, is instructive….the B &B here who know a brake pad from a brillo pad aren’t the mass market. They are scary and know nothing. I’d be afraid to sell complicated devices to them. (which is why we so often don’t get some cool options)

    VW has a great niche…but that won’t translate to mass sales in the US. Here, we want CHEAP.

    If someone came up with the car the US mass market really wants, it would be a new $5,000 1990′s Accord with Bluetooth

    Hershey out sells Teuscher, but which one is better ?

    My German cars haven’t been worse than any other cars I’ve owned….I have had incompetent dealer issues in Bedford Hills, NY at an Acura dealer there, so I can relate…possibly VW needs to purge (sorry) the bottom feeders of customer satisfaction. The ugly fact is all dealers pay squat and lean on the mechanics to beat the book, and most good indy mechanics are escapees from the Dealer system.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “I won’t discuss the reliability issues…I have an Acura which has way more citrus inside than any of my German cars.”

      Anecdotal evidence is great when framing your experience but when taken in aggregate no one, including the suits in Wolfsburg, would say that VW is more reliable than Honda/Acura.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree 100 %. My euro cars have been quite reliable and fixed correctly when broke by the relevant dealers, SAAB and BMW, and my “Alleged Honda”, the Acura, has had significant issues (Trans rebuilds, CE lights, failed coils) all of which have been usually made worse by the dealer…when they replaced the torque converter under warranty, they forgot the seal between the trans and transfer case…flooding my driveway with cherry red trans fluid-I hate Bedford Acura with good cause. I am sure, however, that my experience is only one data point….

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        Maybe not VW but Audi is now more reliable than Honda.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Modern audis (in fact any audi made after the mid 1990s) are the very definition of disposable automobiles. Once they’re off lease and past the CPO warranty, you better drop it like a hot potato.

    • 0 avatar
      challenger2012

      You must be former VW management, blaming the American Auto buyer’s lack of quality standards as the reason VW finds itself going nowhere in North America. Other than you, NO ONE believes that VW’s quality is in line with the price it charges for its products. You remind me of the GOP types spinning their election losses to the moral short comings of the people who didn’t vote for them. What a story to tell yourself. It may make you feel better, but doesn’t change a thing. VW has to stop blaming the customer and start selling competitive products, competitive in price, quality and reliability; Toyota, Honda, Ford, Kia, etc. seem to know how to sell cars to Americans.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “If someone came up with the car the US mass market really wants, it would be a new $5,000 1990′s Accord with Bluetooth”

      I would happily pay $10,000 for a re-manufactured version in 2013.

    • 0 avatar
      aaronista

      “If someone came up with the car the US mass market really wants, it would be a new $5,000 1990′s Accord with Bluetooth”

      The average transaction price for vehicle purchase is now little over $30k. So yeah, Americans want a cheapmobile… rollseyes.

      No, the times have changed. They now want something nice. Something good. Something with quality. And they will pay for it if they see the value in it.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I see little value in pedestrian sedans transverse I4 for $30K. What’s changed is as car prices rose beyond reasonable reach Americans have accepted the fact most of them will never own their vehicles, so instant gratification kicked in and $300-$400 they have their new car either as a lease or a 6-7 year loan (and halfway through they’ll want a another new one).

      • 0 avatar
        azmtbkr81

        Look at the average age of car buyers, it is in mid-50s, these are the buyers who want quality and luxury, younger buyers are simply priced out of the current new car market and really don’t have a say.

        If Honda offered a $5k Accord, even if it were a 20 year old design, they would be snapped up as fast as Honda could make them. Nissan still sells the 20+ year old B15 Sentra in Latin America for under $10k and it is a huge hit. There is no reason the same concept couldn’t work in the US, only thing stopping it from happening are all of those pesky safety and emissions standards.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          So, dot gov strikes again.

          • 0 avatar
            Mullholland

            The comments in this thread add up to a “perfect storm” of demand that opens up the U.S. to a car built to 1990′s Honda Accord standards, probably made made in China or Thailand or India. Looks like the price point is just under $10,000. The big problem is incorporating the U.S. gov’t safety and emissions regulations into its design and manufacture.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Probably not feasible. Dot gov has to keep changing the rules of the game in order to keep its bureaucracy relevant. Long term standards are the antithesis of their mission to justify their lofty positions.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          On the interwebs, there is enormous demand for a stripper car at a low price point.

          In the real world, the average person is paying $30k for a new car, and demands a lot of extra features, state-of-the-art crash protection, and more horsepower than is demanded by those in the developing world.

          In any case, auto companies need to make money, and they can’t make money by selling the cars that Americans want at Chinese prices. Car enthusiasts seem to have completely unrealistic expectations for the kinds of price points that allow for a profit.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree when someone ponies up such an amount they demand a certain level of refinement, which is understandable. While a ten thousand dollar Chinese sounds good on paper, it will probably sell poorly. A previous generation model car sold cheaply may sell very well.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            At this point, safety standards aren’t just a legal requirement. They are demanded by consumers.

            Those who are serious about buying a low price car can pick up a base Nissan Versa for something close to $10,000. The car is perfectly functional and reliable, albeit not exactly a joy to drive, and it will certainly crash better than a 20-year old car.

            Yet relatively few people consider buying a car like a Versa, let alone purchase one. Money talks, and internet chatter walks.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Well played sir.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    They need to launch their new models in Europe and NA at the same time. For example, the next gen golf isn’t coming here until when? 2015? Already out in Europe. So by the time it gets here, it looks like an also-ran compared to other makes.

  • avatar
    slance66

    Kyree is right, their crossover/SUV offerings are way overpriced for what they deliver. The Tiguan is too small as well, how could anyone choose it over a CRV, which is bigger, more reliable and cheaper? The Toureg is nice, but every time I looked at one it seemed $15,000 more than it should be.

    Nobody in the United States is going to pay a significant premium for a VW, certainly not a Mexican built one. So in addition to high prices by segment, you add worst in class reliability, expensive repairs, obnoxious dealers and bland styling.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    At this point I would try something radical, like rebadging a Skoda or two and taking advantage of the (relatively) cheap(er) eastern European labor costs. A 100k warranty wouldn’t hurt either. I’d also personally ditch the Beetle, but if they insist on keeping it I would strip it down to its bare essentials – like the original Beetle – at sell it as the bargain basement model instead of catering to nostalgic baby boomers who have mostly moved on.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    I really don’t believe VW doesn’t know what it needs to do to be more successful in the U.S. market. It seems to me VW is trying to avoid doing what needs to be done. Investing capital and time to develop new products is expensive and if they can accomplish their goal without doing that well that be better all around.

    But its not going in VW’s favor. Here’s what I think needs to happen.

    1. Build competitive CUVs. The Tiguan and Touraeg need to be put out to pasture.

    2. Stop dumbing down your cars. So you make your cars cheaper by removing content that made your cars stand apart from the Camry et al. So, if you’re not providing the VW experience, why should customers open their wallets to pay the VW tax.

    3. Stop fighting with the customer. I don’t know if it stems from the dealer body of VWOA but you better be prepared for a fight when bringing your car in for service. It shouldn’t this way.

    *** And the gigantic elephant over there huddling in the corner***

    4. Reliability- U.S. customers don’t see your cars as being reliable. When V.W. began this 800,000 car quest I didn’t hear this being addressed. I wonder why? If you’re quality has improved do something Hyundaiesque and offer extended warranties. If the cars are good it won’t cost you much, if anything, at all but the benefits you’ll gain will be worth it.

    VW has always had a strong enthusiast following in the states but I see signs of that waning. Folks who’ve worshiped at the altar of VW are finding other deities. The recent downward push of Audi, MB and BMW adds another challenge.

  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    I’m 6’5″ and a odd leg deformity (whole leg angles right 30 degrees). I want to buy a VDub, however just too many hurdles to jump. Passat…knee cap rest on center console and seat does not angle up. Jetta…somewhat better but still tight. Tigquan..seats work, bit of body roll, no diesel. I fit the Golf, but my ass cheeks rest on vertical seat supports. Best configuration diesel Golf with Tigquan seats. Then it’s the leap concerning reliability and service. Thanks but no thanks.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Vw customer service has gotten better but it takes a long time to change perception , they need a cuv bc that is what the USA wants and they need a clear message , my Tdi wagon is a little pricey but really they had the diesal market to themselves and it has held up pretty well and when it did not VW stepped up and fixed it on their dime, the pasett and new jetta sedan sold pretty well when new but they at in a brutal market where the ante goes up every day and that is a good thing for car shoppers and they have to keep up

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “…the pasett and new jetta sedan sold pretty well when new but they at in a brutal market…”

      You can say that again. Between the new Accord, Mazda6, Fusion, Altima and the rest VW has its back against the wall. And the lack of a competitive CUV makes it that much harder to stop the slide.

  • avatar

    I think part of VW’s problem is insoluble. It really seems to be a twofold problem. A cultural one yes, but also an economic one.

    Mostly, it has to do with its position in NA and in Europe, not to mention Brazil. When you are the market leader, you can afford to have bland styling, models that are very slow to change, outdated but reliable tech and low content per car. As you are the go-to brand, people will tolerate that, heck many people will buy you for years on end and not even look at the competition (ex. in the US would be GM for years and more recently Toyota).

    As the underdog, you must be flexible, take some risks, update your car’s looks frequently, adopt new tech, add a lot of features to the car, keep the price under the competition. In one way or another, Chrysler did this for years as did the Japanese and more recently the Koreans in the US. Its no guarantee of success, but its the only way to gain mind share through the buzz generated and then hopefully your product will be good enough to gain conquest sales and repeats.

    The problem then is that VW, while a leader in much of the rest of the world, must play catch up in America. They don’t make the rules in NA. They must offer what the customer wants, while retaining some identity, at a price that is compelling. A European has no reason to buy a Camry as the Passat fulfills his needs. He doesn’t even think of the Camry when he goes shopping. An American or Canadian really have no reason to trade on their Accord for a Passat.

    It does seem to be a difficult game for VW to accept. It requires sensibility and finesse. Historically, the Germans have a hard time playing to others’ rules. They do have to bow to the American market before being able to preach to it. Culture aside, they have to adapt their pricing, content per car, building costs, among a myriad of other things to appeal as the underdog. I just don’t know if they’re built for that.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      It also doesn’t help that VW has a different role in Europe than in the US. In Europe, with Skoda and Seat, VW can easily take on the role of being slightly premium because it has other brands that can act as the “cheap” cars (despite the fact that I think the Skodas are basically better in every way compared to their equivalent VW).

      In the US though, without those brands, VW must act as the “cheap” brand (although historically not as cheap as Honda, Toyota, Ford, Chevy etc) which is a hard balancing act that they are clearly struggling with. Especially now that VW went full cheap and its competitors like Ford are moving to VW’s old place of affordable but slightly premium or premium feeling.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, agreed. In the US though, a third brand is not needed. Imagine they introduce Skoda as a bargain basement brand and it does well. Audi would continue as its going and VW would still be in the same place. I think they have to re-start from a place of humility, better pricing, high content, ease of repair. Then they could move up against the more established names. That is, if they can do it economically and profitably and if they want to be a mass market player. Carry on as they are and surely they’ll continue a niche brand. A nich brand can make a lot of money, but it doesn’t seem to be what they want. Now, if their actions could actually meet their wants, they could go somewhere.

  • avatar
    abhi

    Here’s my open comments about VW.

    The car buying process was decent. The experience if you will call it that has ranged from frustrating to nightmarish at times. I understand that parts sometime fail and things go wrong but it seems that with VW it will be the most simplistic things that fail. As the resident car guy in my family / friends I steer people away from Audi/VW as much as I can…

    I have currently a failing headliner (caused by a poorly built/designed antenna seal), a failing evap system (which doesn’t diag properly either), door lock that doesn’t recognize that the door is closed or open, interior parts loosing their finish, leather that has worn too much for its age. This unfortunately are things that I have elected not to repair because I will not be bilked for things that in my car history have never failed in other cars some of which I’ve driven to 180K miles.

    Things that have been replaced under warranty, engine head gasket and seal, ENTIRE A/C system engine side,wastegate , numerous coil packs, wheel speed sensors, radio.

    If I look at it on a whole it’s a fun car but all in all I feel like I’ve been taken for a ride. I am at a point where I am just going to barely keep it working mechanically.. I understand cars are a sunk cost but this thing feels like a ticking time bomb.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    I have to agree with speedlaw. I have owned VW’s for over 30 years and have received great service from all of them. The dealer that i used was in business for about 40 years and gave great service. During that period i also owned various other Asian cars but the cost of parts from Mazda & Subaru lead me to go back to VW. I have purchased 3 new VW’s for my family within the last 4 years from a new dealer as my old dealer retired and i find their service very good. I know i paid for those 3 free oil changes and service but the dealer did what he had to do and returned the car washed and clean. I just like the way a VW handles and drives. (I am 77 years old and still drive my 91 Miata on weekends)

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    VW has established it’s self as the go to brand for “affordable” diesels with stick shift through the range but, they have failed to capitalize on the SUV front. The Tiguan and Toureg both have decent tow ratings however, no one knows this. the Tiguan does not have a diesel and is unbelievably frustratingly only offered with a stick on the base model. The Toureg makes an impressive tow vehicle, especially with the diesel, but again, VW has failed to get this information out to the masses. This explains why people don’t “get” the Toureg.
    My request still stands, Tiguan or better still a mid size (Audi Q5) SUV, stick shift, mid level trim with a diesel, AWD and a respectable tow rating, enough for a small travel trailer. They would have a winner right there.
    As to reliability, VW could do more work on perceptions as the cars are just not as bad as many here on this site make out, not any worse than some other brands, yes, looking at you Ford and Jeep…
    One last thing, VW should use the South African market to establish which engine / model combinations are the most reliable and go with that because that market is much tougher (speeds, distances, expensive gas) on cars.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      “The Toureg makes an impressive tow vehicle, especially with the diesel, but again, VW has failed to get this information out to the masses. This explains why people don’t “get” the Toureg.”

      People don’t “get” the Touareg because it starts at $44k ($51k for diesel). For $48k you can get a Mercedes M Class or Audi Q7. For $51k you can get a Porsche Cayenne. For $52K you can get a BMW X5. If all you are interested in is its towing capabilities, for $29k you can get a Grand Cherokee (~$42k for the diesel).

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        Bingo.

        I live in an affluent area where Audi, Lexus, and BMW SUVs are ubiquitous. VW SUVs are just not seen. You will see more Teslas in a week than VW SUVs in a month.

      • 0 avatar
        LeeK

        Whynot, please tell me what alternate universe you live in that gets you a ML, Q7, Cayenne, or X5 with any kind of reasonable option set for the bare bones prices you quoted. All the X5s on the lot of my local BMW dealer start in the mid 60s. The Cayenes start in the 70s. I don’t have an Audi dealer nearby, but a few quick searches show prices firmly in the high 50s. You can’t just grab the base MSRP and say that is what these cars go for. Spec out an ML on Mercedes like-for-like with a Touareg’s standard option set and then come back with a realistic comparison. In fact, I did just that: I configuring a ML350 on the Mercedes website with what comes standard on a Touareg VR6 Sport (gasoline engine) and got to $58,265.

        I don’t disagree that the Touareg is too expensive for Volkswagen’s customer base. Its sister Q7 and Cayenne outsell it by a wide margin despite being significantly more expensive because the brand has the perceived worth whereas VW does and cannot compete for the upper crust of the buying public.

        PS No Grand Cherokees either for 29k, at least none that any person would be willing to drive

        • 0 avatar
          whynot

          Oh I know you can barely find any of those at those prices, but good luck finding a Touareg with a MSRP at $44k too (although many are discounted so you can find them at that price). I was comparing the relative pricing as I don’t feel like searching around to get a more accurate aggregate pricing. If you truly want to you can find cheap Cayenne if you are willing to travel- I found one at about $57k. At the Touareg’s price level you start running into overlap with luxury crossovers and the image their brand brings.

          With the Grand Cherokee I was pointing out that there was a much cheaper option if you were only interested in the utility the Touareg brings, and I didn’t even mention the 100s of pickup variants you could choose.

      • 0 avatar
        Beerboy12

        Most of the the competition you mention is MUCH more expensive. The Q7 and the Cayenne are essentially the same vehicle as the Toureg, so why would you pay so much more, get the VW and save some cash. Few people in that market think that way though, which is my point, really.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The Q5 is compact, competing with other compact luxury CUVs like the GLK-Class, X3 and XC60. I do think that the Tiguan should at least be the size of a Q5, because it’s borderline subcompact as it stands. What I’d wish for, though is more-modular car manufacturing in the future. You know there’s no way in hell that Volkswagen is going to offer a configuration for a compact, mid-level CUV with a manual transmission and a turbodiesel/AWD powertrain. However if those elements were developed in a modular fashion and were individually available on the car, perhaps Volkswagen could run a separate production line wherein customers could order their cars *exactly* how they’d want them, and in whichever colors they’d like. Sure, you’d pay a premium and you’d have to wait around for a while, but at least then, enthusiasts like yourself could get their fixes.

  • avatar
    brettc

    As much as I dislike SUVs and CUVs, they do sell to the Americans that secretly like wagons as long as they’re on stilts and have AWD so they can drive around on all-seasons and think they’re invincible in the winter.

    The current Tiguan is an oversized, expensive Golf with less cargo capacity than a Jetta wagon and the sole engine requires premium unleaded. Who the eff is going to buy one aside from a crazy VW enthusiast or an old person? The R-Line Tiguan is $40000, which is insane. You can get a CX-5 for $21000 or so. Of course the shiny new CX-5 might be a pile of rust in 2 years, but the price is what Americans look at. Plus the CX-5 gets decent economy and runs on 87 octane fuel. Just like the Equinox/Traverse, Escape, etc. The Jetta and Passat were way too de-contented compared to their predecessors. They’ve put some of that content back, but I think it’s too little too late. I wouldn’t be surprised if part of their sales drop is due to people waiting for the 7th generation Jetta wagon to arrive. The local dealers around me have a ton of 2014 Jetta wagons (mostly TDI) waiting for a home.

    Saw this the other day on the TDI Forums and thought it was a great read. I especially loved the reference to the supplier’s Toyota with the mismatched paint.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/declining-sales-in-us-market-pose-challenge-to-volkswagen-a-938102.html

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      It’s interesting what the Germans feel quality is in the article. No one is doubting the cars are well put together, fit and finish, etc.

      It’s them staying together and not having the various component parts self destructing that is the problem. People want to drive their cars and never have to bring it to the dealer except to get an oil change.

      At the end of the day people will look over the miss-colored bumper on the Toyota if they never have to put it in the shop.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Good article, it explains a lot

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    VW, so you really want to win America, listen up because this is how you do it:

    Americans have a crazy mad love for the VW bus.

    Make a competitive minivan with ample seating for 8 and cargo space, a V6 Engine that runs on REGULAR GAS, an 8/9 speed auto transmission and retro-style the bejeezus out of it to look like a VW bus.

    For the interior, use REAL LEATHER. Vinyl/MBTEX, etc is just fake boobs for cars.

    Problem Solved.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    There are three basic problems at work:

    1. VW’s branding in the US is built on a niche of quirkiness and nostalgia. By definition, niches are not high volume.

    2. The cars are not sufficiently reliable for US conditions and the market. What works in Europe doesn’t work here, and reliability needs to become a top priority.

    3. The corporate culture is too arrogant to understand the first two points. This is the General Motors of Germany, i.e. a company that is convinced that the problem lies with the customer, not with itself.

    Point #1 is nearly impossible to fix; to change this would require a complete reinvention of the brand that would force it to become a very different car company.

    Point #2 is a challenge, due to the nature of its European customer base and of Point #3.

    In essence, VW ought to abandon the American conquest strategy, and just focus on niches; it can’t win. There’s more upside potential in Audi, anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      I totally agree on all points!
      VW is and always will be a niche brand in the US, and they should capitalize on that with this strategy: Look at other niche brands and make a VW-branded competitor. Subaru? Offer an AWD cute-ute to take on the Outback. Mazda? Continue with GTI against Mazda3, and also make a Miata fighter. Mini? Bring Polo-R (it just won the WRC, FFS, so capitalize on that!) and continue with New (New) Beetle. Volvo? Passat wagon. Scion? These are generally too cheap to compete against, but maybe an FRS fighter? And also make a retro minivan, a la Microbus. And bring the Scirocco…!

  • avatar
    bryanska

    Every 100k+ mile VW I’ve been in seems to be falling apart. Rattles, squeaks, etc.

    I just don’t know many people (beyond brand fanatics) who love their VWs for years and years.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Perhaps VW is a prisoner of its initial success in the U.S. market in the late 1950s and 1960s. The VW Beetle was certainly not designed by an American focus group or an in any to cater to American tastes in automobiles, as they existed at the time. It was the anti-car: small, slow, cheap, noisy. It had 3 virtues: its 1930s-era design was stone simple and therefore reliable, it did not use much gas and its small size made it easier to drive in urban environments. So, VW had an unexpected success in this market, and it came by being different not by “catering to American tastes” or having a “halo car.”

    With the notable exception of Honda, the Japanese came into the American market by imitating American cars’ appearance and basic design, but borrowed from VW the concept of smaller size, reliability, and low fuel consumption.

    For too long VW hung on to the air-cooled, rear engine boxer 4 concept; and the appreciation of the Deutschemark against the U.S. Dollar eroded its price advantage. The Golf was a masterstroke of design that gave VW a second lease on life, but it was defined by the reliability problems that have continued to plague VW. And, although the Golf was a great first act, an equally great second act never came. The Jetta originally was a sedan version of the Golf. The Passat stepped into the crowded space already occupied by Volvo and Saab from Europe . . . and Toyota, Honda and Nissan from Japan.

    Then we have two pathetic attempts at SUVs: the Toureg, curiously named, overweight, overpriced (versus the established competition) and, of course, unreliable. The Tiguan is surprisingly small on the inside for its exterior dimensions and compares unfavorably with similar offerings from Japan and now, the U.S.

    Product matters.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Easy problem to fix.

    1. Offer 10 year, 100k warranty like Hyundai
    2. Make money on each car since your cars do last that long, right?

    Otherwise you need a plan B that blames the failure on someone else not on the board or otherwise able to affect your position.

  • avatar
    Dan

    VW won’t get to 800,000 units without competitive CUVs but that isn’t why the Jetta and Passat don’t sell well either.

    VW’s problem is branding. Nobody at VW seems to be aware, or at least willing to admit that they’re aware, of what the cars they sold around 1995-2005 did to them. That badge may as well be a check engine light on the front and back of the car.

    Fixing that will either take 20 more years for people to forget how awful those cars were or else owning it like Hyundai did with a massive warranty program.

    But until then, they could build a Caprice with a 400 horse V8 and sell it for $35,000 I still wouldn’t look at it.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “…Volkswagen is still confounded by the lack of cachet their namesake brand holds among the hearts and minds of many an American”

    Marcelo and PCH101 said it well, but I’ll summarize here: VW isn’t teachable.

    This is especially true if they only listen to VW zealots. They should interview Hyundai/Kia buyers, but I suppose in VW’s eyes they’re a different life form or something.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    The only solution to The American Problem is the final solution: extermination.

  • avatar
    tornado542

    This is what VW needs in my opinion, feel free to argue.

    1. Get rid of all manual transmissions on everything except base models. Nothing makes people more upset that you have to add 2-3k on top of base price to get into an automatic.
    2. Sell Jetta with automatic and 1.8t engine at 18k instead of 20k
    3. Sell Passat with automatic and 1.8t engine at 21k instead of 25k
    4. Sell Q5 sized CUV starting at 21k with automatic trans instead of 25k
    5. Make Touareg price competitive with Toyota Highlander/Nissan Pathfinder. Offer low cost 2.0T in touareg as base model. ($30k)
    6. Offer Diesels on CUV/SUV without huge markups
    7. 5 year/100k power train warranty
    8. NO MORE PREMIUM GAS, for ANYTHING.
    9. NO CAR/SUV OVER $45k
    10. Build low cost small pickup truck (4×4 Crew Cab 4 cyl for $25k)

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Deep price cuts are a great way to lose money.

      Automakers are not nearly as profitable as many people believe them to be. If they slashed prices by 10-20%, they would lose money.

      US market share for compact pickups is lower than the market share of new vehicles sold with manual transmissions. The small truck space is owned by Toyota, and VW doesn’t have a brand to support pickup sales. Launching a pickup would only produce losses.

      • 0 avatar
        tornado542

        what I am saying is that a comprable VW product should cost as much as a comprable Toyota or Honda or Nissan product. Currently VW costs 10-20% more for less/equal value.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        You also don’t make much money if your product doesn’t sell.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Using volume in an effort to make up for losses is a game that General Motors played and lost.

          The path to increasing profitability is to make the cars worth paying for.

          • 0 avatar

            True but volume does matter. I’ve worked in manufacturing long enough to see that some times you need to price to volume to hit any volume at all. It’s risky but required in a competitive market. As mentioned you can keep higher pricing but you need to show the consumer the value involved in the additional cost. It dosen’t have to be an actual value but perceived (think luxury car brand value) but I think in VW current brand value in the US they really should look at the Hyundai KIA early 2000 model. Add all the features customers want into the base price and than add a long warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      FractureCritical

      this is the perfect enthusiast’s response.
      here’s what VW REALLY needs:

      1) a complete revamping of the customer service experience. I mean some serious clockwork level retraining of service staff. more than anything else (even put together) VW NEEDS to LEAD the field in customer satisfaction. Vehicle quality is good, but problems happen to every car. It’s not as much about the quality as caring for the customer. Every premium brand knows this (or should) and it’s a dirt-cheap thing they can do RIGHT NOW. It doesn’t take years to redesign being a responsive automaker.

      2) quality needs love. Americans have the same value in automotive reliability that they do in firearms. They may want to play with a Barret sniper rifle, but they want to own the AK-47; the original hinda civic of deathdealing; easy to use, easy to clean, cheap to keep. screw the widgets. We don’t need Heads-up display, we need a car that will fire, er.. start in frozen mud every day.

      3) product, which just sucks. The Passat is boring, slow, and expensive. the Jetta has the same problem. fine by early 90′s standards, but in a world of Fusions, Focii, 3′s, 6′s, Legacies, and that other Subaru thing that looks like a traffic cone, there’s no distinction

      4) get rid of the diesel aready! yes it’s got a cult following. no one else cares asude from portly middle aged single engineers and the occasional hipster who buys one off the wholesale lot of his dad’s Porsche dealership. Diesel cars are more expensive, use (waht is ususally) more expensive fuel, and are grossly over complicated for the new emissions rules. And I’m sorry, but they’re friggin slow. Great off the line jump, right up to human running speed. after that, they dog it to 60 mph.

      5) where are the SUV’s? I hate ‘em, you hate em, everyone else in the country loves them. most of these people listen to country music. sell them a trucklet.

      6) where’s the $%^^&% microbus/minivan. For F’s sake, offer something other than a friggin Chrysler van in the showroom. A Town and Country minivan with a VW badge on it does’t even live in anyone’s Venn diagram. how did this even get made?

      7) how about an upgrade on that 2.0T motor? 200 HP was grea9 NINE YEARS AGO when you introduced it. whoopity doo! Kia’s outpower them now. yes, I know they’re actually not any faster, but car sales are made in the sunday paper, and for John Q Horseasspower, 270 hp >200 hp.

      8) MQB was a stupid idea. There, I said it. It’s dumb. A system of components so vast and complex that it takes forever to get a new model to market, losing tens of millions of dollars in sales to fresher competitors every model year. It’s already happening.

      • 0 avatar
        whynot

        They should keep the diesel engines, VW has carved up a large niche with them and generally has no problem selling them. The problem (relating to engines) is VW needs to have more competitive gasoline engines that don’t rely on premium fuel.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Without the diesels, VW has no other distinction.

        VW isn’t alone in failing at the minivan thing. At least the Routan – stupid as it was – was a nod to Chrysler’s dominance in the market.

        As for quality (or quality perception), they have about a 10-year struggle ahead of them to turn the ship around. They should read the Hyundai playbook.

  • avatar
    Charlie84

    I like VW quite a lot. I’m on my third and they’ve been great cars for me. In my view, VW doesn’t deserve some of the flak they get from the armchair quarterbacks of the interwebs. But some of the flak, they REALLY deserve.

    Case in point: Out of curiosity, I just built a Touareg on VW’s website configurator. I realize that this car is a Porsche Cayenne in cheaper clothes, but you can’t even get leather seating surfaces until you step up to the $51,475 “V6 Lux” model. For reference, the base MDX has leather standard at $42,290…and VW shouldn’t even necessarily be competing with Acura, if it’s Toyota-esque volume their after.

    That NA-market mid-size crossover should have been greenlit YEARS ago.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The armchair flak you refer to is written by the many people who have been burned by VW over the years, like me. My one VW experience from 02-05 was quite bad.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      VW is one of those companies that everyone wants to like (who doesn’t want a nice, affordable, reliable German car) but VW makes it so difficult- whether that be from its lack of reliable (perceived or not) to the fact that it seems to drag its feet on making what seem like obvious decisions (lack of a price competitive midsize CUV, it took them years to even make a compact CUV compared to practically everyone else).

    • 0 avatar
      340-4

      If suffering through two of these cars makes me a quarterback, where’s my signing bonus?

      The self-destructing 1.8t 5A Passat and dissolving Beetle should at least get me a spot with the Rams!

      • 0 avatar
        luvmyv8

        It seems from the many horror stories and “never agains” I’ve heard over the years and seeing the VW trade ins, recons and consequent “come backs” working as a porter of a Toyota dealership……

        it seems like owning a VW is like playing for the Oakland Raiders, not very enviable.

        Too bad. I’d love me a reliable GTI or GLI with a proper transmission, but I wouldn’t even dare….. getting to work is kind of important in my book.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    VW has an enormous problem – that problem is called Hyundai.

    Here in the north east where VW appears to be doing well, Hyundai is doing even better.

    Almost every former VW owner that I know is now a Hyundai owner. At much lower than every VW price point, you can get a car that has more features, better looks (subjective), and a MUCH better warranty. Every Hyundai dealer has the 10/100,000 banner prominently displayed on their lots.

    What’s VW’s warranty down to these days? 3/36,000? That’s pathetic.

    Arrogant Germans have ignored these criticisms for decades. My prediction is that they will continue to do so.

    • 0 avatar
      340-4

      Fantastic point!

      VW seems to have forgotten that there’s always someone behind you working to eat your lunch.

      They should look over their shoulder a bit more often.

  • avatar
    340-4

    Oh boy.

    Former VW (2 of them) owner here. I know the horror of which I speak.

    Here’s my two cents; my ten cents are free:

    VW alienated an entire generation of customers with its 1995-2000 and up vehicles. Terrible quality. Bring up VW in a room full of younger professionals and get ready for the stories. Sure, you’ll have the inevitable fanboi whose parents cover the repair bills. But never have I heard such hatred for a contemporary marque. I know I won’t buy one again.

    So, VW, instead of making your cars cheaper and lower quality for the US market, why don’t you swallow your pride and produce cars with the same quality and reliability of… well, pretty much everything out there, really, but try to beat the Japanese, for instance. Give that a shot. It’ll take time, it’ll be expensive, but we’re reaching the point of diminishing returns here so you can still catch up.

    Might want to update your warranties, too.

    Drop your arrogance. Cute ads will only sell so many cars.

    Now, I loved driving the GTI’s, loved the seats, loved the feel and the performance. But no matter what, I can’t bring myself to trust one, despite the plaid seats.

    Now where’s that Scirocco?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      All good points.

      I’d like VW to define what “German engineering” is, but I already know that it’s merely code words for German ethnocentrism. Somehow it’s OK to advertise your brand that way. I get it, but then they also treat their customers that way.

      • 0 avatar
        theslik1

        “German engineering”, as defined by VW means “a vehicle that will require lots of Tender Loving Care (frequent shop visits) because we’ve either spec’ed or bean-counted every scrap of design margin from every single part in the product and, as icing on an already-crappy cake, aggressively de-contented for the NA market because we really don’t think you’re smart enough to notice”.

        Granted, Americans can be a little slow on the uptake but we’re figuring it out. I severely doubt VW will do the same because they’re fundamentally, culturally hostile to our market. It takes a lot of time a money to change a culture…

        • 0 avatar
          340-4

          That’s hilarious, and true.

          Contrast this with my latest new car: a 2014 Dodge Charger SXT AWD.

          This is a car engineered and designed and built by people with no contempt for the buyer.

          This is a car built by a company that wants to stay in business and not only retain customers, but win over new ones.

          The ride quality, solidity and quality of construction, and attention to detail on this car is astounding.

          They’ve met or exceeded the quality feel of previous-gen VW’s. But I doubt this one will peel apart in short order.

          It took Chrysler time, but they’ve done it, and we’re the better for it.

  • avatar
    justinx

    You’re all wrong, the biggest problem with VW is what they name their vehicles. No one really wants to drive a car called a “Pas-snot”, or “Tiggon” or “Toe-rag” Golf and Rabbit are just as silly. Only the Jetta name has some American appeal.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    VW did offer a great, made in Germany, reliable, cheap car from 2007-2009……the Rabbit. I bought a new one for my daughter in 2008 with the 2.5 5 cylinder and 6 speed tiptronic for $17,500. That car now has 90,000 miles on it and has been 100% reliable, has no squeeks/rattles, and still zings around corners like it did when it was brand new. From what I understand VW was selling them so well equipped for so cheap, that they actually lost money on every one of them. Consequently they sent over just a handful each year. They should have just increased the price a bit, left production in Germany, and sent enough to meet demand. Now the Golf is made in Mexico and costs more. Maybe Winterkorn needs to retire.

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      The current generation golf will be made in mexico but it isn’t on sale yet in North America. The preceding generation was made in Germany.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I’ll believe they lost money on them. You could get a 2010 Jetta sedan for about $18.5K that had heated seats, heated mirrors, all the safety goodies that were optional on other compacts at the time, a strong base engine, and a hell of a nice interior all as standard equipment. Never could understand how they could sell it for the price of a Corolla LE.

      Considering nothing seems to be lost in the build quality from Mexican assembly, the current base Golf or Sportwagen is still a good deal for $20K

  • avatar
    turf3

    How about this?

    1) Simplify the cars, no Bluetooth/entertainment center BS
    2) No reason for enormous center consoles in a FWD vehicle. Give us flat floors in the front, so big people can fit. How much of a hump do you need for a 2 1/2″ exhaust pipe, a fuel line, and a wiring harness?
    3) Nuke all the automatic nonsense that requires “software upgrades” – what is this, Micro$oft? I don’t need the doors to lock and unlock automatically, I can do that.
    4) Simple styling, that you can see out to the rear.
    5) 4 engines, no more, a big and small gas engine and a big and small diesel. Two transmissions, one auto, one manual. AWD? Not sure what I think about that. Probably just don’t offer it. Oh, by the way, all the engines bolt to all the transmissions bolt to all the frames.
    6) Nuke the navigation etc. BS
    7) Use the very highest quality materials and construction
    8) Fix the reliability problems. Hire a C-level quality VP with automotive experience in a high quality company, responsible only to the CEO, job assignment to go thru this place like s*** thru a goose, fire people, fix the problems, and hire a staff of real reliability engineers to find the real root causes of the problems and fix them. The CEO makes it clear by words AND ACTION this is the top priority for the company and both product delivery and launch schedules will be subordinate to quality and reliability. Simplifying both the complexity of the products themselves and the complexity of the product portfolio help to give the organization the bandwidth to work on this.
    9) Limited number of vehicles. One medium size sedan. One little econobox. One SUV/CUV/whatever they call them these days.

    So you would have a limited line of vehicles, simply designed, made of high quality materials, highly durable and highly reliable, minus most of the doo-dads and geegaws that aren’t really good for s*** except to break down anyway. Reasonable costs come from simplifying the things and reducing the frequency of changes to the underpinnings. Those also reduce the reliability risks.

    This is a product portfolio position not held by any other automaker I am aware of today. It’s what worked for VW in the 50′s when they brought the Beetle.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Intersting amid all the comments about longer warranties — VW were the first mass market carmaker to offer the 100k powertrain, all the way throuh 2001 or so. It had some loopholes, but I know plenty of people who had gaskets and cats replaced under it (the latter were usually part of the Fed mandate).

    It slowly died in favor of a longer bumper-to-bumper warranty, which is far more expensive for the manufacturer in any given year. Many times more expensive. But it sells more cars — especially leases.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “Hello, VW, GM on line one… They say you’re doing a fantastic job, stay the course, the public will come around to your way of thinking, because you’re right and that’s the most important thing to be. Remember, what’s good for VW is good for the fatherland. Catchy phrase don’t you think?…click”

  • avatar
    MT

    “the Touraeg and Phaeton”

    Hmmm. Both abysmal failures. So they promote the dude responsible? Really.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    Some of the replies are spot on but many of them need correction. I wish people would check their facts and years before posting. One fact i will correct is that some VW’s are marked for premium gas but like other cars you can use regular with no damage and with only a little loss of power. The computer will adjust for the difference.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    VW isn’t supposed to compete with BMW and Lexus. That’s Audi’s job.

  • avatar
    arun

    You know whats funny?….this many comments, and not one mention of the CC. I might be a little biased here as I own one but it is a fantastic car. With the 2013 refresh, they made it a 5 seater, which was the only real practical complaint I have with the car.

    It does need premium gas but I say if you can buy a $30k car, you can spare $15/month extra for the premium gas as well.

    • 0 avatar
      mypoint02

      I test drove a CC and thought it was a nice car. The refresh was much needed and makes it a more practical car. But I think it’s still a little too small for most people. I’m 6’1″ and no adult would have been able to sit behind me comfortably. Stretch it a few inches and I think it’d do great here.

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      I’ve driven the CC and liked it. But the way VW has packaged and positioned it just doesn’t make sense for buyers.

      At the low end of its target market, it’s fighting against something like a mid-range Fusion that’s roomier and better equipped (leather, 40hp more) for $5k less. And you can’t even *add* real leather or a moonroof or nav without hitting $37k.

      At the upper end of the market, the V6 model is well into 3-series territory. That may be a battle it can win in Germany, but really, not so much in the US.

      (Same beef with the A5, which I would love to own, but not with that engine.)

      • 0 avatar
        arun

        While I agree with the price difference, the height factor and the leather (though the pleather in mine was served me well), do not be fooled by HP numbers.
        For one, VW under-rates the HP numbers. The HP is easily 210 HP if not more.
        Two, VW is one of the lightest in its class at 3200lbs – a good 350-400lbs lighter than the Fusion. Both of these combine to give a 0-60 time of 6.4 seconds in official road tests compared to 6.9 for the Fusion.
        My butt timer tells me that you can easily get upper 5s in DSG mode ( I have done such stoplight runs myself – just haven’t timed myself)

  • avatar
    mypoint02

    Back in my younger years, I was a VW enthusiast – I drove a MkIII GTI VR6. Mechanically, it wasn’t a bad car. But the cheap plastic interior surely turned people off. Even back then, the level of resentment dealers had for their customers, especially in the service department, was legendarily high. From what I hear, things haven’t gotten much better. When you have to visit as many times as people with MkIV Jettas and Golfs did, that’s a huge problem. That was really the start of their recent brand perception problems if you ask me. People were willing to give them another chance and they got crapped on.

    The problem I see with their current lineup is that there’s nothing that stands out. The previous gen Passat was a great car. But with a $36-40k price tag, why would anyone choose that over an A4 or even a low end 3 series? The current Jetta looks and feels unbelievably cheap inside and out – and it’s not a cheap car. The Passat has decent interior quality, but is extremely bland. The Tiguan is too small and expensive and the Touareg costs nearly as much as a far better X5 or Q7. I drove a CC and thought it was a really nice car, but it’s also a bit too small. The GTI is about their only great car right now if you ask me and the market for it is pretty limited.

    If I was running the show, I’d add some bells and whistles on to the Jetta and made it feel more substantial than what it’s supposed to be competing with (Elantra, Corolla, Civic). Make it a value proposition that could be their volume car. The Passat is never going to sell in CamCord like numbers, so why make it a blandmobile? Switching to the 2.0T is a step in the right direction. Next give it a little edgier styling and keep the price reasonable. The Tiguan needs to be bigger and more CUV like (see CX-5). I would drop the Touareg altogether.

  • avatar
    Hezz

    Of the dozen or so cars I shopped this winter, the GTI was the one I was most surprised by. Drove well, felt nicer than expected, roomy, price reasonable, really one of only two cars I saw that honestly felt the least bit special.

    Not sure if I can overcome my fear of VW reliability enough to buy one, but if the GTI was a Honda I would’ve driven it home in a heartbeat.

    Product is fine, quality needs to be good for a while before stereotypes will change.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    It seems to me there are thiings they can do without making a “bet the farm” type approach:

    1. Instead of offering a 100K warranty, they could sell them at a reasonable price, as Ford does. In fact, Ford allows any dealer to sell a warranty to any Ford buyer, so there is very close-to-the-bone pricing on the ‘net. VWs are pretty interesting cars. If I could protect myself for a reasonable price, I might take a shot at a VW. The company can’t match Ford’s price on the warranties? Do it anyway and make the product better.

    2. They need to continue with included dealer service, but longer than two years. Make it for the length of the note. Charge for it at a price that barely or doesn’t quite, covers costs. This insures a steady supply of well-maintained used cars, and minimizes needless warranty claims.

    3. Identify and get rid of the crooked dealers. VW dealers are notorious.

    VW seems like kind of a throw-back to 1970′s GM marketing approach, where the company could bump profits by cutting quality and warranty and the buyers just had to accept it (or so they thought).

  • avatar
    Jacob

    Every time someone asks about VW cars on forums, someone else will inevitably mention the reliability problems with the past VW cars. VW now has a real reputation problem, sort of like Koreans in the 90s. I think one way to shrug this off is to offer a class-leading warranty. VW should take a lesson from Koreans and extend the powertrain warranty to say 10-years/100K miles.

    Next is the issue of CUVs. Americans are addicted to CUVs. VW should make Passat and Jetta-based CUVs to get some action in that area.

    Finally, stop making vanilla-looking cars. Toyota can make vanilla-looking cars because it’s Toyota. Take a lesson from Mazda6, Ford Fusion, and Hyundai Sonata (yes.. not everyone likes each of those designs, but at least those companies are trying).

  • avatar
    The Dark One

    My bad experiences with VW’s have always been dealer related. They virtualy abandoned Beetle drivers that made the company, and have an attitude of “take it or leave it” when it comes to price negotiations. They actually believe the hype that VW’s are for people who can’t quite afford a BMW or Merc yet, and consider VW’s a way to get in with affluent crowd.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I’d rather VW not try to be a sales juggernaut here. Go back to making cars with the quality feel of the MkV Jettas, Golfs, CCs, bake in enough mechanical reliability to make that quality be more than skin deep, add a CUV for revenue’s sake, and be happy with the modest sales figures.

    Mazda isn’t trying to take the sales crowns from Toyota and GM and they can actually make interesting cars because of it.

    I have a 2010 Sportwagen with no fancy-pants Euro-boy diesel, just the 5 cylinder. And it’s an unbelievably nice car for only $20K. And by all accounts this generation is holding up far better than the MKIV. I respect VW for making this car, and if it isn’t the type of vehicle the American market wants in quantity, then I’d rather VW stay small here than build something that feels like an Elantra.

    But then I’m not a VW shareholder, am I?

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Lost in this VW hate fest is that VW is moving alot of cars in the US compared to their history. 2012 they sold over 400k cars – which beat every single year in the 2000′s..

    They hit almost double their 2006 number. And they have a rather dull lineup – its like Honda’s lineup – only duller.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Yes, BUT as has been pointed out about, VW’s sales seem to be boom-bust in this country for a number of reasons (cough, reliability, cough). Check back in five years and let’s see what their numbers are then.

      I say this as past owner of a 1981 Rabbit D and current owner (and driver, after it sat dead in driveway for almost 6 years) of a 1996 Passat TDI. Both vehicles which were built during valleys in their reliability history IMO. Diesel drivetrains excellent, everything else, not so much . . .

      Amazingly, the 1996 Passat had some of the EXACT SAME issues that my 1981 Rabbit did – specifically, extra-crappy door handles, window regulators, and ignition lock cylinders that like to hold onto the key until you hold your mouth right and move the steering wheel a certain way (as though you are opening your high-school locker combination lock). Very GM-like in making cars with the same design defects for decades!

      I have such a love-hate relationship with my Passat that I can’t even get near one of their dealerships unless I am forced to go to the parts department. Right now I mostly love it, but it’s just a matter of time before something else breaks (The other mirror falls off? Window won’t roll back up? Another gauge in the cluster stops working? Headliner falls down the rest of the way?). My neighbor has a 1995 Accord with 250K miles on it (original engine/trans) and hardly anything wrong has happened with it in comparison.

      I’ve owned (and worked on) dozens of American cars and about 15 Hondas, so I have something to compare to. My Hondas are not nearly as fun to drive, but they rarely break. I just do super-boring routine maintenance to them.

  • avatar

    Coincidentially, I saw Tiguan today. It was towing a dirt bike on a little trailer. This post made me pay attention, and guys: Tiguan is not small. It’s about the size of Highlander. It’s not as massive as D3-based Explorer or enormous GM “CUVs”, but it’s not sized as Rogue or even CR-V. I don’t know about the price or reliability, but I think VW sized it just right. The may need 2 more CUVs: 1 larger (like Pilot), one smaller (like Outlander), but Tiguan is fiiiiine. Very attractive design, too — for the length of warranty or lease.

    P.S. Wait a moment, don’t they already have a huge CUV that shares the platform with Panamera? I think it was called “Touareg”. Whatever happened to that one?

    • 0 avatar
      LeeK

      Ok, some corrections. The Tiguan is built on a Golf platform. It’s a Golf on stilts. I have a manual transmission AWD 1999 Honda CR-V. The current Tiguan is about the same dimensions as my first generation CR-V. You’re right it’s just fiiiine. The Tiguan trounces my old CR-V with a great engine, excellent driving dynamics, and modern conveniences like Bluetooth integration.

      But here’s the rub: the fourth generation CR-V available today is ginormous compared to the Tiguan. Interior size, particularly in the important cargo hold, wins over the customer set (young families, empty nesters, retirees) every time, especially when a nicely equipped Honda in EX-L trim is $5,000 cheaper than the imported-from-Germany Tiguan.

      The larger Touareg is built on the same platform as the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7. It is a very competent luxury SUV, but the typical customer that VW attracts cannot justify the $50,000 price tag that the even more expensive Porsche or Audi can command due to their brand image.

  • avatar
    lightbulb

    The problem with VW is less to do with their percieved realiablity issues, and more to do that for years they have marketed it as a semi premium brand. Basically a Audi but cheaper. And for years one could say that they did achieve it. Now there is far more competition in the market which is pushing them out. They can no longer market themselves as a premium brand since the majority of buyers are looking for a affordable car. They priced themselves out of the market. Now they are slowly understanding that they have to broaden their appeal by making more affordable cars for the masses. Another is that the majority of VW buyers are women, including the Golf, GTI, and Passet. They need to start marketing cars to men, especially in middle America.


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