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.