By on September 10, 2007

9152003133315.jpgBusiness Week (BW) reports that VW of America's newly anointed boss Stefan Jacoby wants to resurrect the ill-fated Phaeton luxury sedan. The Phaeton was a hugely expensive machine– both in terms of development costs and its $75k to $95k sticker– positioned against BMW and Mercedes. Customers were lined-up none deep. And yet Jacoby insists dropping the Phaeton was a big mistake–  that should be corrected. "A world class luxury sedan that doesn't show the luxury all over the place and that could have the only fuel efficient 12-cylinder diesel engine… that's funky." Get down with it 'bro! anyway, fans of the brand who despair that VW will once again be off chasing moonbeams should note that Jacoby is a consummate corporate player (check the anecdote at the end of the BW post). The Phaeton was VW Chairman (now supervisory board chairman) Ferdinand Piech's pride and joy. File this one under lip service and stand by for those small, well-built, frugal cars you've been wanting since Ozzie Osbourne's lead guitarist buzzed him in an airplane– and crashed into a house.   

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17 Comments on “VWoA Chief: Bring back the Phaeton!...”


  • avatar
    rashakor

    Bring it back as an Audi A8 or… maybe A7.

    The “super passat” is just a cannibalization of the Audi sales.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Remind me again what “Volkswagon” means?

  • avatar
    Hank

    Rashakor, the Phaeton was already a discount A8. It just wasn’t discounted enough.

    Beautiful cars, but label conscious USAmericans just don’t go for it.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    As a bruised ex-owner of one of GM alum James MacLernon’s “little Oldsmobile” Rabbits in the ’80s, I’ll hope this isn’t VW losing its way in this country yet again, but just a case of someone smooching the posterior of someone’s supervisory board chairman.

  • avatar

    Drove one in Portugal last year. Lots of things right about this car, with the exception of the badge at the front.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    And you thought that only American car companies could be mismanaged.

  • avatar
    gfen

    Someone with a clue explain to me… So, VW and Audi are competitors, or they’re complementary?

    IE, at the end of the day they’re more-or-less completely seperate companies, or they’re both supposed to be increasing the overall profit for VAG? Who calls the shots, the respective leader(s) of each brand, or the VAG leader(s)?

    Why is it so hard to have a cheaper, lesser contented VW (ie, Rabbit, Passat, GTI) and then its upmarket sibling (A3, A4, TT)?

    Really, if the Passat is to the Camry; then the A4 is to the Lexus?

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    VW continues to amaze me.

    Not just with its dumb ideas (Pheaton, Tourag, Rabbit rebirth, etc), but with its continued downward spiral of products somehow not affecting in in any way.

    How do they sell any cars at all? Their dealers are slimy, their reliability is horrible, and their cars are overpriced by far.

    Evidently, VW puts enough addictive drugs into its cars to keep its customers. VW fanboys are the most rabid I have ever seen.

    I’d like to see a VW deathwatch, but VW is almost zombie like in its undeath.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    Randy Rhoads and the VW Phaeton…. both tragedies that seemed like a good idea at the time.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    SherbornSean

    Remind me again what “Volkswagon” means?

    I’ll tell you what Volkswagen is supposed to mean:

    “People’s Car”

    Unfortunately, after owning a Golf and Jetta I can say that the “People’s Car” is now the “People’s Headache”.

    Poor quality components (in both German and Mexican built cars), un-serviceable transmissions that die a premature death, and miserable dealer experiences have driven me to the Japanese and I’m never looking back.

    Too bad, they were fun cars to drive….

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    I really don’t get the Randy Rhoads references to this story. He would probably be a footnote in Ozzy’s career had he not dies the way he did(like Jake E. Lee).

    Blunozer is right about VW’s image in the US, poor product reliablity, horrible dealers NATIONALLY, and higher prices than comparable prices. Is this just the case here where their market is not that big?

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    If VW’s home state is forced by court to relinquish its golden shares (with a ruling to come shortly), then Porsche will take over a majority holding. And Volkswagen will be for ever changed. I think it would be good for VW and bad for Porsche. Watch these spaces.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Wow, so first Jacoby talks about bringing a small $15000 car to North America, and then he goes to the other end of the spectrum and says the Phaeton should be resurrected? Incredible. If it is resurrected, it should be an Audi, not a VW.

    I’m a VW TDI fan, but only because they’re the only company that has sold somewhat affordable, diesel powered vehicles in the last 10 years. The Phaeton is not affordable, unless you find a used one. VW’s (mis)management actually makes GM’s management look like they know what they’re doing. Will the new Phaeton come with a laptop preloaded with VAG-COM? You know, to diagnose why the check engine light has come on for no apparent reason. Just add it as a $5000 “self-diagnostic” option on the window sticker.

    Luckily I haven’t had any major issues (yet) with my two Jettas, but I’ve experienced my share of electrical problems between them. I’ve taught my wife to ignore the CEL that will randomly appear on her car because I know it’s the glow plug harness. I’ll fix it before it gets below zero outside. The stealer probably wants $500 to replace the $40 harness. I haven’t checked because VW dealers are crap, and every other time I’ve called for a service estimate, it makes me want to cry. I end up doing it myself, or taking it to a TDI guru that lives nearby.

    When affordable diesel cars appear from other manufacturers (likely Honda), I’ll probably start looking for a replacement, unless VW re-learns that their name means PEOPLE’S CAR. A $75000 car isn’t affordable by any of the people that I know. I want VW to succeed in North America, but it’s getting to the point where it’s becoming just as hopeless as the big 2.8.

  • avatar
    hal

    I always wondered why VW didn’t introduce an A6 sized sedan rather than the A8 sized Phaeton?
    The logical thing would be for the next gen Passat to be the same size as the B5 (last generation) – smaller than the current Passat – leaving room for a A6 based Phaeton.
    If VW are going make a serious assault on the US market they will need a large sedan. – just not something the size of the S Class with a V12 Diesel although I agree that would be funky especially when you used it to haul a 50′ trailer.

  • avatar
    tech98

    I always wondered why VW didn’t introduce an A6 sized sedan rather than the A8 sized Phaeton?

    The story I heard is that VW bigwig Peich was embarrassed at a meeting with the heads of Mercedes and BMW, because they arrived in ‘flagship’ cars and he couldn’t because VW didn’t produce one.

    Presto, massive expensive new VW project to compete with the S-Class and 7-Series.

    Don’t know if it’s true, but it fits with what I’ve read about Peich’s massive ego. Arrogant auto execs are not exclusive to Detroit.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    He’s right. Prosaic brands can cross class barriers IF the product is emotional enough. The first few generations of Ford’s Thunderbird (say ’55 to ’65) sold to a demographic most luxury marques would have killed for. Ditto the original BMC Mini. Personally, I loved the Phaeton and I watch the resale prices freefall on Ebay…one of these days I keep promising myself.
    One wonders what would have happened if maybe VW had labled it a “Wolfsburg” Phaeton (using that cute Wolfsburg logo from the original Beetle) sort of the way Mercedes named their uber-Benz the Maybach?

  • avatar
    Cicero

    The folks at GM could learn a thing or two from this Jacoby guy about the black art of completely screwing up a once-coherent brand.

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