By on March 3, 2009

Where’s the news? VW’s sales were down from 16,556 to 13,660 from February ’08 to February ’09, a decline of 17.5%. Models like the Rabbit (Golf with a stupid engine) and Passat were down significantly, while VW’s supremely important Jetta model fell from 6823 last February to 5199 this past month. This was offset a bit by an additional 784 units of the Jetta wagon, which wasn’t on sale last February. Some red meat if you’re into that sort of thing: the R32 (which I’ve never been wild about) dropped from 449 cars last February to a paltry 85 this February, a decline of 81%. VW has had a number of new models introduced in the past 12 months, like the Tiguan, Routan, CC, and the aforementioned Jetta wagon which have helped to offset the decline in other areas. Or just flat out stole sales from their siblings. Stay tuned for an upcoming editorial about VW’s models and marketing in the US, which I believe has been infected by the dangerous Genmotovirus.

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27 Comments on “Volkswagen’s Sales Drop 17.5%...”

  • avatar

    Who’s the tranny? (Hey, I don’t judge.)

  • avatar

    I can’t decide whether Brooke helped or hurt Volkswagen’s sales of their fake minivan with the better-than-Chrysler interior. It would have been better if she had just stood there without using the crazy VW script.

  • avatar

    Oh sweet! I drive the Golf with a stupid engine! It does plow the torque quite well. Of course, a diesel could do the same thing (plow torque) with much better MPG.

  • avatar

    VW just cannot figure out the US market, and I don’t understand why they don’t understand the market.

    Their dealer service departments suck, and the only time you can believe that they’re going to be selling a rumoured new model in the US is when you actually see it on the lot. They underestimated the pent-up demand for Jetta TDI wagons, so that’s hurting them now. They delayed the launch of the new TDI engine because of a tech problem, which hurt them because they missed the window on the 3 and $4 per gallon gas. VW fans have been demanding small cars like the Polo for years, and now they say they’re going to bring it over, but there’s never a “when” offered by VW. It’ll be available for purchase when it’s available for purchase. They’re finally bringing the V6 TDI Touraeg, but who cares now? They missed the boat on that too.

    I don’t follow VW’s gas engines too much, but apparently the 2.0T is good, but it requires premium fuel and only gets in the upper 20s for economy. The 2.5 in the base Golf and Jetta is a pointless engine when they have so many better offerings throughout the VW family. The base Rabbit/Jetta should be selling with a fairly powerful engine that can manage mid 30s for economy. I don’t know why it isn’t.

    VW also needs to fix their reliability problems for good and keep on top of it. My 2003 Jetta has been good overall, but it’s had the occasional minor electrical problem like a bad coolant sensor, and now a bad glow plug harness. I expect it because I know VWs typically have electrical issues. But people that buy Toyotas and Hondas won’t buy a VW if they suddenly have to deal with problems like that.

    I look forward to reading your editorial!

  • avatar

    The Spokane Appleway VW service department is quite nice. Fixed the seatbelt sensor for free (warranty).

    My view of VW:

    The Routan is really lame. Kind of like how a rebadged Chrysler is lame. Since the Routan is a rebadged Chrysler, it is thus very lame. Very few of these should ever be constructed and on the whole, it seems like a waste of time and money. I take this as a disturbing sign of “trying to be mainstream like Toyota” or something. Instead of being VW. The Tiguan is a little silly, however at least that makes some kind of sense. Wasting effort on the SUV thing is well… wasted effort. A few SUV’s on the lot and that’s all there should be.

    What VW needs: Lightweight cars with kickin’ diesel engines that deliver epic MPG – enough to obliterate a Prius on nearly every level while retaining that VWishness. Something like the Polo – with a wompin’ torque monster diesel under the hood would be epic awesome – a cult favorite that would sell like hotcakes. People want fun cars now with good MPG. Rebadged, lame Chryslers are not fun and so … bleh. The people do not want a rebadged Chrysler. The people want fun. The people want diesel. The people want a fun diesel that is lightweight and well constructed. The people want something that can obliterate a Prius. Current GTI is good just need to crank a little more power out of the 2.0L engine.

    The TDI Jetta is a very good sign. It has very good reviews and delivers MPG in spades. VW needs to concentrate on these kinds of niche market vehicles.

    Yeah, I agree on the Jetta TDI Wagon thing. People would much rather drive that than the Routan.

  • avatar

    I would wager Brooke’s horrific baby ads dragged down the entire VW brand (the minivan was DOA anyway).
    VW is in a funny position – after years of trying to become a “luxury” brand their sales have been boosted by the reputation as an “economy” brand that they could just never shake.
    Still, they have a tough year ahead – the Tiguan never got an “intro bump” and is now a year old with no sales; the CC is a premium car from a brand that can’t sell premium cars, launched into the teeth of the recession; and they are sketchy at best about plans to bring over smaller cars or better engines for their current small cars.
    The TDI’s will remain a niche. Diesel will never be cheaper than gas (recently proposed fuel tax hikes hit gas with 10 cents, diesel with 15 cents, furthering the inequality) and the economics just don’t work for a lot of people. “People want diesels” is hopeful at best. “Blog and car forum posters, and automotive journalists, want diesels.” is more accurate, but that group won’t buy 15M cars a year….

  • avatar

    I used to say that VW is “ambitious” in their pricing. But at this point they’ve gone past that point into “arrogant” about their pricing, and moving ever-closer to “stupid” in their pricing.

    And by pricing, I mean as broadly speaking as possilbe, not just “too expensive” (which they are).

    But also, “stupid” pricing like:

    – A stunning, upscale-looking-and-feeling Passat CC coupe 3.6…. with the same car available with a 4cyl, cloth and $15K less, diluting any exclusivity.

    – A Compact SUV (Tiguan) which belatedly joins this lucrative market segment…. with a starting price where its competitors are topping out at. And no, it’s not a “premium-positioning”, because if you reach that price point, an Acura RDX will always be a better choice than a Tiguan. If nothing else, on dealership experience alone (see earlier post by brettc)

    And so on and so forth…

  • avatar


    Add 7-speed with high mileage ratio, that would make me look…

  • avatar

    Actually, VW lucked out with being so weak on the US market. That’s why they could post another record year in 2008 with more sales and more profit than ever before.

  • avatar

    Actually, VW lucked out with being so weak on the US market. That’s why they could post another record year in 2008 with more sales and more profit than ever before.

    It’s just like the old saying: luck is opportunity met with ineptitude.

  • avatar

    I guess you missed that VW posted a record profit, huh?

    Automotive News
    March 3, 2009 – 4:00 am ET
    GENEVA (Reuters) — Volkswagen expects to make a profit this year, CEO Martin Winterkorn said.

    VW reported preliminary full-year results for 2008 that showed a 3 percent rise in operating profit to a record 6.33 billion euros ($8 billion).

    When asked about prospects for making a profit in 2009, Winterkorn said: “I expect so, yes.”

    Winterkorn would not give any further indication how earnings would develop in 2009. He was speaking on the sidelines of the Geneva auto show.

    VW finance chief Hans Dieter Poetsch has forecast Volkswagen could post a loss in the first quarter amid what will likely be one of the worst years for the auto industry since at least the Second World War.

    On Monday, VW said its 2008 after-tax profit rose 14 per cent to 4.7 billion euros.

    The group beat the wider trend in the car industry, but with current sales “extremely weak” at the start of this year, it would be “impossible” to match those figures in 2009, the company said.

    Group sales last year rose 4.5 per cent to 113.8 billion euros. VW group brands include Volkswagen, Skoda, Seat, Audi and Bentley.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    diaf :

    I guess you missed that VW posted a record profit, huh?

    Didn’t miss it. But that’s not based on American sales, believe me. VW might be dominant in Europe and very strong in China and Brazil. But they’re niche in the U.S.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised VW didn’t tank a lot worse. Brooke and those babies scare me.

  • avatar

    Der Spiegel has posted an interview (in English) with Martin Winerkorn, CEO of VW. He seems largely unconcerned about the current crisis. He also states VW will go ahead with a factory in the US. Here’s a link:,1518,610832,00.html

  • avatar

    just took delivery of a jetta TDI on Friday and am taking it back to the dealer to get the radio fixed tomorrow (Wednesday)…not unexpected that something electrical would go wrong with a VW, but I would have liked to have had a couple of months without trouble rather than 3 days…VW will stay a niche vendor in North America as long as stuff like that happens…I located some independent garages even before delivery, so here we go to test the dealer.

  • avatar

    I just finished a 12 year love/hate relationship with a Jetta. Needless to say I didn’t go back to the VW dealer for a replacement.

  • avatar

    Well, I think Brooke Shields is a good looking woman; but those baby ads were creepy, and what’s with the “old bug” in front of the microphone?

    Character acting badly done, he sounded like either a Spanish guy with a German accent or a German guy with a Spanish accent (I never could figure out which).

    You’re right, gslippy; she could have just stood in front of the vehicle with better results.

  • avatar

    Justin Berkowitz said:

    Didn’t miss it. But that’s not based on American sales, believe me. VW might be dominant in Europe and very strong in China and Brazil. But they’re niche in the U.S.

    I am not sure if it’s base on building cars at all. I heard that they are declining big time in China.

    Remember the $5~6B profit posted by Porsche by manipulating VW stock options? I wonder how much of it went into VW books to make the acquisition look smarter.

  • avatar

    The Routan outsold the GTI!! Not enough fan boys with money anymore.

  • avatar

    In this part of NJ (central/northern) I see many more new ROutans than I do Chrysler T&C’s or Dodge Caravans. Agree the Brooke SHields ads were creepy — but perhaps effective.

  • avatar

    rx8totheendoftime, do yourself a favor and buy a shop manual, bookmark, find a buddy who knows how to turn a wrench and owns a VAG-COM.

    You’ll be so much happier in the long run.

    I got into self-repair of my VW Rabbit in 1983 with this book, and I’ve never looked back. The few times I’ve dealt with VW Dealer Service I’ve almost always been disappointed. Unless you go in armed with as much info as they have, you will get screwed by any number of them.

    The TDI cars are still pretty easy to work on, and the community supporting them is excellent. I attribute my cars’ repeated longevity to my care and feeding of them maintenance-wise.

    I can appreciate people who want a no maintenance appliance of a car, that is what Toyotas are for. To be honest other than an MR2, and of course a 2000 GT, there hasn’t been any Toyota that turned my crank. Maybe if they sold a Diesel here in the USA I’d give them a try. Until then, grab a wrench and smile.


  • avatar

    Well, considering VW only had 103 R32s left at the end of January, selling 85 sounds pretty good. There are only 18 R32s left from the 5000 VW brought over last model year. There is no 2009 R32 in the US.

  • avatar

    Until then, grab a wrench and smile.

    Unfortunately, these modern men nowadays wouldn’t know what to do with a wrench, much less identify one.

    I’m with you on the do-it-yourself route. I’ve owned five VWs over the past 30 years (currently have three). I’ve taken three past the 130,000 mile mark, including a 624,000 mile 1987 Golf, 200,000 mile 1975 Scirocco, my current 280,000 mile 1997 Jetta, and my current 135,000 mile 2003 Wolfsburg Jetta 1.8T As a matter of fact, I just did a brake job on the 1997 Jetta a couple of weekends ago. I upgraded the disk brake rotors to Zimmerman vented/cross-drilled rotors, stainless-steel brake lines, Mk3-to-Mk4 rear disk brake caliper upgrade, and Mintex semi-metallic brake pads. Also flushed the brake lines and added fresh ATE brake fluid.

    We’re a rare breed, my friend…

  • avatar

    VW is as lost as a duck in a parking lot.

    They’ve never quite gotten used to the fact that they’re NOT a luxury marque and that charging those stupid prices for cars that are famous for their unreliability is not a good tactic.

    Then… what’s with the stupid names?! Routan? Tiguan? Next up! Crap-an!

    Rebadging a Chrysler wasn’t their finest hour either. And I’ve heard horror stories about their dealer service. My boss – he’s German by the way – has a Passat with less than 40K miles. A couple of weeks ago he dropped about $1000 in maintenance and when he pointed out some pieces falling off they told him *you haven’t been keeping it properly* and *they all do that*.

    And finally… my pet peeve are daytime running lights. VW is a big proponent of them. One more reason why I bought an Altima and not a Passat.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    I want the 2.0 CC. Its kind of like getting a slightly decontented A4 for $5k less.

    6 speed manual is the base car. The shift lever is positioned where you would want it. Its as if VW designers like driving and like manuals and the corporates dont stop them.

    Cant possibly imagine why anyone would go for the v6 though. Priced way way too high. AWD, so what on that car.

    The 2.5 is an embarassment to Americans. Like going out to dinner abroad and having waiter spot you as a yank and asking if you need your diapers changed before dinner and how many big macs you would like on your plate and apologizing that they only have real beer….

  • avatar

    @Justin Berkowtiz

    “Strong in Brazil”


    NOt really. They’ll have a strong 1st quarter down here as their new gol catches more sales, but soon the novelty factor will wear off and then Fiat will come out with their new Palio and kill those guys. Stupid pricing, arrogance, cars having problems, all of them are contributing to VW’s ever falling market share down here. My prediction: They’ll finish this year even farther behind Fiat than last year.

  • avatar

    “chuckgoolsbee :
    March 3rd, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    rx8totheendoftime, do yourself a favor and buy a shop manual, bookmark, find a buddy who knows how to turn a wrench and owns a VAG-COM.”

    I already have the manual and the bookmark…not convinced about the wrench with respect to the radio (it is intermittent and now ‘fixed’ and I have not taken it to the dealer).

    Until the rx-8 – which lasted 6 months – I was an appliance(Toyota) driver. Post-rx-8 came a BMW 5 and 3, then a TL and the TDI…compromise=spouse, I have found.

    I did know what I was getting into with VW. I am taking a beginner’s auto maintenance course (not having touched a wrench in many years) and will do the first oil change around September.

    As the man who jumped off a 10 storey building said to the people who asked how he was doing on the way down, “So far, so good”…

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