VW US Aims Downmarket

Martin Schwoerer
by Martin Schwoerer
vw us aims downmarket

Autobild reports that the soon-to-be-Porschefied Volkswagen Group is adopting a low-price strategy for the US market. Beginning in 2011, VW US will sell several relatively cheap, not-for-Europe models: a $20k frumpified Passat, a $15k Jetta and a $25k Passat-sized SUV. (India and China will also be blessed with these Vee Dub strippers.) VW prays hopes this "mid-term strategy" will boost their American sales from last year's 235k units to a cool million vehicles per year. Autobild reckons this plan creates a conundrum: how to prevent gray-market exports to Europe? How to protect VW's international brand values? The magazine recommends introducing a new low-price brand (e.g. Toyota's Scion and Renault-Nissan's Dacia). Meanwhile, in Tokyo, VeeDub's upmarket sib has introduced the new, slightly-larger-than-Mini-sized A1. Badge-engineering alert! Although the new Audi A1 shares its atrocious gaping grille-mouth with the Q7, it sits on the VW Polo platform. The model also introduces Audi's new soft-touch, synthetic cow hide, trademarked "velvet leather." As Grace Jones will tell you, it just doesn't have the same ring to it as warm leatherette.

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  • Cammy Corrigan Cammy Corrigan on Nov 04, 2007

    Mr Martin Schwoerer, It's not just reliability which is causing a problem for VW, it's also their lack of foresight. For some reason, they won't stop dragging their heels over hybrids and insist on pushing diesels, which (as I found out, much to my shock) don't actually generate much better MPG as petrol engine*. I'm particularly hard on VW because I KNOW they can play the game better than the Japanese in some instances, but they don't seem that bothered about pushing forward. They'd rather stay in second gear.... * = A VW Golf 2.0L Sport TDI with a DSG gearbox generates 34.4mpg in urban conditions and 54.3mpg in highway conditions. Its CO2 emissions are 164g/km. A Toyota Auris 1.6 T-Spirit with an Multimode gearbox generates 33.2MPG in urban conditions and 47.9MPG in highway conditions. Its emissions are 161g/km. Not much difference (depsite Diesels being SO superior), but there is one big difference. The VW Golf Plus is £20082 and the Toyota Auris is £15545 with more as standard.

  • Martin Schwoerer Martin Schwoerer on Nov 04, 2007

    tentacles: thanks for the information; I stand corrected. I was thinking of the PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe), for which the first studies took place in 1969. No excuse of course for forgetting that BorgWarner was the inventor, VW just the first and major licensee.

  • Vega Vega on Nov 05, 2007

    @KatiePuckrik: VW Golf GT Sport (petrol) 1.4 TSI 140hp, 29.7mpg urban, 49.6mpg highway, 169 g/km, GBP 16727. Btw, according to Toyota.co.uk the Auris does 166g/km. And has 16hp less. And 9 mph less top speed. And is 1,7 sec slower to 60 mph. And it looks butt-ugly compared to the Golf. So your comparison looks skewed, especially considering the Auris is also sold with Diesel engines. We all know you don't like german manufacturers, however a little fairness can raise the level of every discussion. Oh, and Hybrids are not and will never be the ultimate solution.

  • Cammy Corrigan Cammy Corrigan on Nov 05, 2007

    Mr Vega, You've totally missed the point of my post. My point was to show you how diesels aren't that much better than petrol engines. Hence, why I compared a diesel Golf Plus to a Petrol Auris. Also, my facts were spot on. I compared the Toyota Auris T-Spirit 1.6 with a multimode gearbox which (according to Toyota.co.uk) emits 161g/km and is the top spec'ed Auris against the top spec'ed Golf Plus. I concede that the 0-60mph time is 1.7 seconds slower, but I compared a Sport VW against a regular Auris. If I'd compared a diesel Auris against a Golf Plus diesel, then all I would prove is whether Toyota diesels are better or worse that a VW diesel (Toyota would lose because VW KNOW how to make a good diesel engine). But that wasn't the point of the exercise. The point was to show how a diesel powertrains isn't that much better than a petrol powertrain. As for the Auris looking ugly, that's a matter of opinion. I, personally, think it looks rather handsome. With respect, if you'd read my post properly, you'd see that I wrote that the reason I'm particular hard on VW is because I KNOW they can play the game better than the Japanese, in some instances, but instead they'd rather stay in second gear. We on TTAC are always hard on Detroit for their inability to compete, the Germans are not exclusive of harsh criticsm for the same reason, in my eyes. And for the record, I never said that hybrids are the panacea the auto world needs. I was saying that hybrids aren't being given a fair shake by the Germans, because they believe their diesel powertrains are supreme, which they clearly arent. Just compare a Polo Bluemotion to a Toyota Prius and you'll see what I mean.....