By on January 5, 2017

Matthias Müller

Volkswagen’s chief executive officer, Matthias Müller, will be taking a pass on the North American International Auto Show this year. VW still needs to settle things with the U.S. Department of Justice, and is desperate to reach a criminal settlement before the Obama administration is replaced by Trump.

Of course, there is also the matter of public embarrassment. At the 2016 NAIAS Müller took some serious heat for telling National Public Radio that Volkswagen did not lie when initially questioned about its emission-cheating diesel vehicles. The CEO may indeed be busy overseeing the criminal settlement with the DOJ, but there has to be a little leftover humiliation from last year’s awkwardness. 

“There will be no separate event of the VW group [in Detroit] and in view of this fact, the group’s executive board will not attend the show,” a spokesman from Volkswagen’s headquarters explained to Reuters.

The company is fearful that its plans in the United States could be postponed by over six months if it fails to reach a deal with the outgoing administration. The choice to keep Müller and the rest of VW’s executive board away from this year’s NAIAS may seem like the company is playing it overly safe but, with things coming down to the wire, its not entirely unexpected.

The Obama administration packs up its last belongings and ships out on January 20th.

[Image: Volkswagen Group]

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23 Comments on “You Won’t Find Volkswagen’s CEO Anywhere Near the Detroit Auto Show...”


  • avatar
    brettc

    It’s already been a year since the NPR thing with Matthias? Wow, time flies when you’re embroiled in a multi-billion dollar class action suit and settlement.

  • avatar
    Von

    I am sure Mr. Muller can give a myriad of very professional sounding reasons on why hiding like a little girl is a better use of his time than attending one of the more important auto shows in the world. But at TTAC we know the truth: he’s trying to protect his corn hole.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “The company is fearful that its plans in the United States could be postponed by over six months if it fails to reach a deal with the outgoing administration.”

    Well, they should have thought of that *16* months ago.

    To be fair, I’m not sure why the CEO of VW would need to visit the Detroit Auto Show anyway, when the company has only a 1.8% market share, and auto shows have almost no impact on sales.

    • 0 avatar
      TheDoctorIsOut

      When you FINALLY have a three row SUV to tout, another (Tiguan) on the way, plus the Alltrack to offer to the crowd that likes their all wheel drive action a little closer to the ground while looking especially butch about it, but especially, especially when all you have is 1.8% of the market and falling they need to get out there to every car show, car wash or supermarket opening and get The Word out that your middle name is no longer “diesel” and yelling We’ve Seen The Light and Lookit All Our SUVs! and getting as much of that free publicity to call attention to your product as you can.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      16 months? Try 10+ years ago.

      Auto shows have almost no impact on sales, and at 1.8% share VW has almost no impact on the US market.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        “Auto shows have almost no impact on sales, and at 1.8% share VW has almost no impact on the US market”

        Nonsense. You’re talking about the second most attended public event category in the country. Not to mention the local and national media exposure. There’s a whole industry that exists solely to measure the consumer impact of marketing purchases. Every single make has those contracts, and all of them evaluate auto shows along with their other expenditures.

        • 0 avatar
          OldManPants

          As General Giap famously said, “That is true. It is also irrelevant”.

          You haven’t refuted jpolicke.

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            Sure I have. The automakers wouldn’t be there if it had no sales impact. They are the only ones buying the work product that would determine that fact. And, given the attendance numbers, it would be worthwhile to attend even if the subject matter was knitting.

            Keep in mind that a lot of shows are paid for and staffed by dealers themselves. That certainly doesn’t happen without a ROI.

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            I’d love to see some research proving that an OEM’s presence or absence at events unknown to the vast majority of the car buying public but for an occasional scrolled-past item in their news aggregators can significantly affect yearly sales.

            I also wonder why some brands that do attend and pay for the necessary promo are still perennially in the bush leagues for sales like Mazda and VW.

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            I’ve had exposure to it before, it’s there for the buying. The big number is the percentage that are in market over different time-frames. Even with the big shows watering things down you’re looking at well over half looking to buy a car inside of 9 months. You simply don’t let that many customers go untouched, especially if you have a smaller dealer and media footprint I imagine.

            I do think it’s a waste to lean on them so much for pr however. There’s got to be a better way to reveal new models.

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            So you’ve been referring to actual physical attendees as the influenced buyers?

            I thought you meant the shows had an influence over the general, non-attending public.

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            No I’d just argue that enough people attend that it constitutes real access to the general public. How many people are affected by discussions with auto show attendees is a meadured thing too. I imagine a company like volvo is benefiting quite nicely right now from the chance to stack their xc90 alongside x5’s and Q5’s. It’s the discussion that inspires they are aiming to buy into.

  • avatar
    srd275

    VW Criminal Attorney might have warned them not to set foot on US soil. Because if any were involved or had access to any info, the US could take them into custody.

    Make no mistake many on that board might be even under sealed indictments that will not be unsealed until one is arrested.

  • avatar
    srd275

    Especially since this engineer plead guilty. http://autoweek.com/article/car-news/vw-engineer-pleads-guilty-roll-emissions-cheating Wonder what he might have provided that relates to Board members?

  • avatar
    mtmmo

    The smartest thing the VW CEO could do is to announce some job creation. Anything would go a long way in improving VW’s US reputation while creating positive favor with our new pro-jobs pro-American worker Administration. Earlier today Black & Decker announced they’re building a new factory in the USA. Thank you President Trump!

  • avatar
    FOG

    “The Obama administration packs up its last belongings and ships out on January 20th.” Was there something else important in this article?

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  • avatar
    Jasper2

    This whole diesel scandal is disgusting. It isn’t the one percent who buy these cars. It’s the folks who work hard and then get the camshaft from VW.
    My hopes:
    1. This guy is severely penalized financially;
    2. Audi gets creamed by the new administration for building a plant in Mexico;
    3. VW leaves the U.S. market and their southern plant starts making Audi’s instead of making them in Mexico.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Jasper2
      No, the plant in Mexico is destined for Global not US consumption
      They will keep making , VW’s in the US.
      People who live in Glass houses, should not throw stones

      • 0 avatar
        Jasper2

        Yes, I think everybody knows that the world is the market for Mexican assembled Audi’s. Not a news breaker.
        As VW sales plummet let’s see how long VW says in the US.
        Spare me your glass house cliche. I don’t know or care what you are talking about.


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