Daily Podcast: The Bottom Line
As TTAC's Black Friday Redux coverage gathered pace, I paused to scan a USA Today profile of VW's new U.S. boss. If you don't read the article too closely, you'll think that Stefan Jacoby is ideally suited for the job of resurrecting VeeDub's American fortunes. Jacoby makes all the right noises: no wafty American style VW's, better quality products, my VW Beetle convertible got me laid when I was in college, etc. As a German who describes himself as a "non-German German," Jacoby [s]invites some serious psychological analysis[/s] is clearly sensitive to the cross-cultural issues that doomed his predecessor. But it's what Jacoby doesn't say that's worrying. At no point does he acknowledge the complete and utter shafting U.S. VW dealers have given their customers. (Not all of them; yada, yada, yada.) While we dissect the dissolution of America's automakers, it's important to remember that the situation is even worse at the sharp end. Until VW– and everyone else in this biz– realizes that they've got to repair their dealer – customer relations, there will be little long term loyalty to be had.
The worst part about VWs are the preponderance of people driving them that really want to believe that the letter 'V' is subbing for the letters 'BM'. Uh, no. Not even close.
Speaking of bad dealership experiences, a friend of mine had the serpentine belt on his 1.8T GTI replaced and it was improperly installed or tightened and ended up collapsing against an engine mount support casting that extruded from the block. It was clearly the dealership's fault, but they had to fight with them, and VW NA, to have it repaired.
It's not entirely the dealer's fault. European dealers have been getting screwed out of warranty support (or any support, period) by their respective manufacturers since they first landed here. Talk to a long-term VW or MB service manager about trying to pry fair compensation for warranty work out of the mothership; it's interesting to see their blood pressure rise. One of the reasons the Europeans failed miserably in North America is the awful treatment of dealers. That the dealers reciprocated in how they treat customers, of course, didn't help. The Germans and Volvo were the best of the worst.
I likely wouldn't own a VW if another company offered diesel engines in their cars (besides Mercedes). There's no way in hell that I would have bought a 2.0 litre gas Jetta. There are much better cars out there that will result in less headaches. VWs are decent cars if you don't mind doing your own maintenance at the prescribed intervals. If you have to take your VW to the stealer, lube yourself up and bend over.