Buy A Routan, Get A Slush Fund

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
buy a routan get a slush fund

Not content to simply rebadge a Chrysler minivan, Volkswagen has putting on a brand-destruction clinic by pairing its Routan with a brand new [s]marketing gimmick[/s] incentive. If you inexplicably want to pay extra to have a VW badge on your Dodge Caravan and put a down payment on a Routan, VW will give you $1,500 back. Except that it won't. The Wall Street Journal explains: "The money — held by Upromise Inc., a subsidiary of SLM Corp., which also owns Sallie Mae Bank and is the largest maker of college-funding contributions– can then be moved into a college savings fund known as a Section 529." This would be bad enough if VW were simply admitting (via cashback) that its cynical Chrysler rebadge is DOA, but instead it's offering an incentive that makes Chrysler's "$2.99 gas" gimmick look reasonable. The weirdest part? VW claims that 6k buyers have already signed up for the offer. But with analysts projecting Routan sales capacity of 20k to 40k, Volkswagen has lots of suckers still to round up. Let's just hope that claiming a single-digit-percentage slice of the shrinking minivan market is worth the epic brand dilution that the Routan– and its ridiculous incentive– are sure to cause VW.

Join the conversation
4 of 25 comments
  • Mirko Reinhardt Mirko Reinhardt on Aug 25, 2008

    @KixStart After a few years, they upped the power in the EV to ~145. When everyone else was at ~200. And then to ~200, I believe, when everyone else was at ~240. Why bother with any of the gassers? I'd estimate that more than 90% of T4 (Eurovan) were sold with the diesels, and the 150ho 2.5 TDI did a fine job of moving that big box. A VR6 in a tall, boxy thing is something even a well-off European family would not consider as practical family transportation. The resale valoe of a minivan with a gas guzzling engine is about zero. It's different with a smaller van like the Touran, because that's the usual car for the kind of mom who drives only 5000 milies a year in the city. hat kind of mom usually prefers the 100hp base gasser.

  • Blautens Blautens on Aug 25, 2008

    TTAC please review this minivan! I've got to know if the interior is as craptacular as the Chrysler version...but I can't pretend to be interested enough to go to a dealer.

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Aug 25, 2008

    Does this thing have a Chrysler driveline or a VW driveline? Just curious b/c I would have much more faith in the VW parts. Why? I own three VW products. They do need more attention but they last and last. No I don't rely on mechanics or dealers - I do all of my own work. No, I don't recommend them to anybody that doesn't do their own work.

  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Aug 25, 2008
    Does this thing have a Chrysler driveline or a VW driveline? Just curious b/c I would have much more faith in the VW parts. Why? I own three VW products. It's a Chrysler where it counts: powertrain and chassis are pretty much standard Caravan. The skin is VW, and I think the first- and second-row chairs might be (hence the loss of Stow- and Swivel-And-Go). I don't know about the third row or the interior trimmings, but they'll probably change a little. It's worth noting that this vehicle was designed to keep implementation costs down. It won't diverge much from Chrysler's original for that reason. Now, this isn't a bad thing, per se. Neither company has quality rankings that inspire confidence, but at least Chrysler mechanicals are cheap, simple, easily available and widely understood. It would be better if the vehicle was bulletproof reliable, but if given the choice, I'll take flakey-and-cheap over flakey-and-expensive. Of course, Honda and Toyota both make reliable vans. The Routan had better be really nicely trimmed if it hopes to stand a chance against the Oddyssey/Sienna. The Caravan, at least, has cheap going for it.