Dear Autoblog: Delayed Means Unintentional Wait
Autoblog is asking if the "Volkswagen Tiguan Diesel Launch Delayed in US?" I'm happy to answer that question for them. No, it's not delayed. If your flight is supposed to get in at 2 PM, the fact that it is not getting in at 1 PM doesn't make it delayed. It makes 2 PM the time the plane is supposed to land. Autoblog is hypothesizing that there probably won't be a 2009 model year VW Tiguan with the 2.0-liter TDI engine. This was the plan was all along– not that it's a good plan, mind you. But Europe is really, really loving VW's 2.0-liter TDI engine right now, especially in the Tiguan. VW can't build 'em fast enough. So while the Tiguan 2.0-liter TDI would be a somewhat hit here in the States, it's a grand slam home run (game-winning penalty kick?) for VW in Europe.The 2.0-liter TDI engine will eventually make it stateside in the Jetta and Jetta Sportswagon. But you knew that back in March, when I asked one of VW's execs, and then passed the news along to you.
1. Europeans are willing to pay more for cars than Americans, in general. Higher margins. 2. The dollar sucks right now, so a competitive price on a Euro-built car would provide razor-thin profits (loss leadership doesn't really work well with cars) I'm still expecting the Jetta tdi in June, but I haven't talked to the dealership in a few weeks, so not sure if that's been changed.
Drove a Tiguan on Saturday. Then drove a GTI to verify that the steering and engine had somehow failed to translate well to the heavier SUV. Verified.
Launching a diesel anything is a losing proposition this Summer: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/18/automobiles/18PRICE.html?_r=1&ref=automobiles&oref=slogin (it's diesel week at the NYT!!). As long as folks perceive that fuel as more expensive than premium, and MUCH more expensive than regular gasoline, I don't think there's going to be an expanding market for diesel in the US anytime soon. The PR campaign for clean diesel is well under way, sure, but will anyone notice? No one but diesel fanboys and brew-your-own biodiesel long-hairs are going for these this year. (wait: will "clean diesels" even work with brew-your-own?) As a long-term strategy, yes, I believe diesel can be a winner in the US, if VW bangs the drum endlessly, and throws some clever advertising behind it, and can educate the masses and persuade a fence-sitter like me. But I wonder if the VW corporation has the attention span or the will to stick with it.
Autoblog isn't hypothesizing, Winding Road is. Check the source: http://news.windingroad.com/body-stylesmarket-segment/sport-utility-vehicles/early-scoop-on-volkswagen-tiguans-us-launch-diesel-delayed/