America Rejoice! Volkswagen Understands You!

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Stefan Jacoby has been the top dog at VW of America for over two years now, but he still has the fresh curiosity of a freshly arrived tourist. Sitting down with “Max” and the Washington Post to hump VWOA’s mass-market dreams, he offers a few thoughtful insights.

“Here, there is more cruising and long-distance driving. In Europe, there are more tiny roads and you drive more actively than in the United States,” explains the highly-paid executive. “We Germans drive and we are not drinking in the car. Americans have breakfast and coffee in the car. We have to adjust to this.” Mein Gott! With insights like this, Jacoby should have no problem breaking a million annual sales by 2018. All these things take is “a more user-friendly steering wheel and entertainment system, an accelerator and brake pedal that are farther apart, and larger cup holders.” Oh yeah, and not evaporating your brand in the process. Or, as VW exec Werner Schmidt once described the Americanization of the Mk1 Rabbit, “Malibuing” away the Euro-appeal that is the Volkswagen brand in this country.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

More by Edward Niedermeyer

Join the conversation
4 of 94 comments
  • Forty2 Forty2 on Oct 08, 2009
    I am also aware that after 1998 VW switched the clips holding the windows from metal to plastic, causing the windows to fall. It was corrected in the 2003 and later models. The rear left window on my '03 Passat fell into the door twice. Both times Potamkin VW in Manhattan took for-freaking-ever to fix it. Aside from that, though, I had zero problems with that car and I loved driving it (1.8t manual). When the lease ended I almost bought it, but decided that owning a VW out of warranty would probably not be a really great idea. It's too bad VW is bent on producing a Camry clone. They used to be interesting, different, fun cars. Passat W8 6-speed was a blast to drive but it was out of my price range. Now we have Jetrollas and Wabbits with that awful, heavy, thirsty 5-cyl and the Golf VI in US-guise also carries on with that lump of an engine, unless you want to pay $4000 more for the TDI. That the 5-cyl 2.5 is not offered anywhere else in the world (aside from maybe Canada?) tells me enough about VW's opinion of Americans as a fat, stupid people who hate driving.
  • Vento97 Vento97 on Oct 08, 2009
    vento97, maybe I’m missing something, but it sounds like you’re saying that a prospective owner should do some research before making a VW purchase, because some models and/or years are best avoided. That advice applies to every manufacturer, That's my point exactly - if you go back and read my posts again, that will become apparent...
  • ZekeToronto ZekeToronto on Oct 09, 2009

    Forty2 wrote: That the 5-cyl 2.5 is not offered anywhere else in the world (aside from maybe Canada?) ... Yep we get the five-pot too :-(

  • Anonymous Anonymous on Oct 09, 2009

    VW reliability is an issue in the US ONLY! In Europe, VWs are considered top quality and reliability premium cars. Toyotas are still more reliable there than VWs, but VWs in the US have had a terrible reliab reputation. Why the gap? A colleague here, with wife and 3 kids, bought a Passat wagon 6 cyl in 2001 ,has 105,000 miles and claims he only did the service, and only one minor repair (rear differential or sth) the whole time. When I mentioned how surprised i was to hear that, he mentioned that the Passat was built in GERMANY and not in Mexico as most US VWs are.