By on January 9, 2011

Volkswagen is dead set to gain market share in the U.S. this year, and it’s rolling out the big guns. They might add an SUV larger than the Touareg to reach hearts, minds and wallets of American customers.

Volkswagen’s U.S. chief Jonathan Browning told the Dow Jones Newswire (via Morningstar) today that “a larger SUV with three row of seats above the Touareg could be a promising addition to the brand’s U.S. lineup to attract a broader range of customers.”

There is no such car in the current Volkswagen lineup. The Audi Q7 has seven seats.

There is more Volkswagen seems to want to take from Audi: Sales. For 2011, Browning sees Volkswagen sales to  rise to 300,000 from 256,830 cars last year. For Audi, he targets “around 100,000” this year, pretty much the same Audi sold last (101, 629 units.)

Asked whether he expects Audi sales to be flat this year, Browning said he expects Audi to grow, but did not give any specific numbers.

His long-term target remains 1 million cars in the U.S., 800,000 from Volkswagen and 200,000 from Audi.

The U.S.A. remains a cash drain for Volkswagen. VW CFO Hans Dieter Poetsch said last year the company’s U.S. unit might not be profitable again until 2013. Browning said this target remains unchanged.

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43 Comments on “VW Might Launch Big SUV In The U.S....”

  • avatar
    John Fritz

    As long as on the “Inside, much cheaper plastic that in European vehicles will be used”, I think it will do just fine.

    • 0 avatar

      VW only sold about 4,000 Touaregs total in the U.S. in both 2009 and 2010. Those are pretty small numbers. Based on those numbers, I’m surprised that VW would go to the trouble to market a bigger SUV, cheap plastic or not.
      If VW is hell bent on gaining market share in the U.S. they might want to try focusing their efforts on models that actually sell enough to make a difference. Its especially bizarre when you consider that VW of America claims that the Scirocco and Amarok pickup won’t sell in large enough numbers to make money in the United States. 4,000 Touaregs a year is profitable? I doubt it.

    • 0 avatar

      I always wondered why VW didn’t stretch its platform for a 7 passenger Touareg(plus). they have the Q7, building a slightly larger Touareg for the U.S and middle eastern market would have been more profitable for the program…again since they have the basic structure they use on the Q7. I’m still convinced that by the time the new Q7 comes with its updated platform and 200kg weight reduction a la Touareg and Cayenne 2011, a Touareg plus would show up either just before the new Q7, or right after it… in the end a 7 passenger VW makes a lot more sense than a 7 passenger Audi. the more kids you got the more likely you’d need to make a saving on buying a large new car…

  • avatar
    Sam P

    The Touareg already has a base MSRP of $44,450 in the US (source: I wonder how large of a market exists for a larger (and more expensive?) VW SUV, especially since the Chevy Tahoe and Ford Expedition both have base MSRPs in the high $30ks, not to mention better reputations for reliability than most VW products.

    • 0 avatar

      And the Q7 has a base price of $46,250…….
      Unless VW plans to move all SUV production to the US, and cut prices by $10,000 or so per vehicle, I just don’t see their strategy making much sense. Even after gaining newfound respect for the Q7 by blasting around snowy roads in my brother in laws’ one over Christmas, I have to admit it isn’t “that” much better at, really, anything than a Traverse at half the cost for more space. Exactly where the Euros hope to find much profit in the sub snob US SUV market, is beyond me.

    • 0 avatar


      I agree with you. Just when gas will probably hit $4.00 or $5.00 a gallon? People who foolishly purchased large SUV’s when gas prices temporarily dropped will again be unloading them in droves. The days of the SUV, as anything other than a small niche market, are over. Most people have just not realized it yet. Any company trying to capatalize on this market has a death wish. We are on the cusp of witnessing a revolution in the automotive landscape.

    • 0 avatar

      Let me add that both Chevy Tahoe and Ford Expedition enjoy an advantage of much larger dealer networks.  Not so important on the coasts, but it is a factor in the fly over states.
      @BMWfan – I haven’t given much thought about $4 a gallon, much less $5 gasoline in the US, but that could be a real game changer in the mix of vehicles that are being sold by the end of the year.  Also, there is limited manufacturing capacity on the fuel efficient end of the CUV market.

    • 0 avatar

      And if gas was 1/gal, everyone would say, “The era of big cars will be over when it hits 2!” And if gas was 2/gal, everyone would say, when it hits 3, there will be no more SUVs! And when it’s 5/gal, everyone will say, “when it hits 6, SUVs are finished!”

      People pay 200 bucks for blenders because they’re stainless steel. That’s probably another 20 cents per blend over a cheap one. People pay 2500 for a TV and it costs them 50 cents per hour more to run it than a 500 dollar tv. People buy big houses that cost a lot to heat.

      People aren’t scared of *gas prices*. They’re scared of *changes in the gas price*. When gas went from 2 to 3, everyone started buying tiny cars. When it went from 4 to 3, everyone bought SUVs.

      Over the long haul, people want what they want, and find a way to afford it or not. The differential in price between running a 15mpg SUV and a 30mpg sedan is less per month than the discretionary money people blow on big houses and heavy cutlery sets from Crate and Barrel. The whole thing is absurd, and it’s disappointing that TTAC hasn’t deflated it.

    • 0 avatar

      The people who buy them will unload them and then probably buy them back once gas drops again.
      Make them more fuel-efficient (I’m talking 45-60mpg, not a paltry 25-35mpg!) and people might stick with them, even with $4-$5 gas.

    • 0 avatar


      Regardless of what the tipping point is, it will be reached. I don’t think there are too many people that can afford to go through $120 worth of gas a week that used to cost them $60 or $80. As for your blender example, there will always be people who will waste money on status products. I will also anticipate your next move, and state that in spite of my moniker, my E46 is probably worth less than your car is, by a considerable margin.

  • avatar

    They are coming a bit late to the party.  One way to make distingush themselves would be to offer it with a Diesel. Since the demise of the Excursion in 05 there has not been a Large Diesel SUV available to the US.
    All the major players have some thing in the 3 row SUV segment for the US. Lets not forget that the Highlander, Sequoia, Pilot and Armada from Toyhondissan all play in this sandbox as well.

  • avatar

    folks in the Fatherland always think of the American way of bigger the better.
    May even bestow the Phaeton II to this large SUV. It will sell but how many?
    It cant be worse than Tata Nano’s nov sales.

  • avatar

    The USA remains a cash drain?
    Maybe they’d save money in the long run by buying up all the sputtering last generation cars that are loading them up with warranty claims, etc. and recycle them into the new cars with, maybe, a bit better QC.
    Think of the PR opportunity: we are going to recycle the bad cars into better ones!
    And yes, it’s fun to tease, but I owned two – and good Lord.

  • avatar

    This sounds like the recipe for a rebadged Durango.

  • avatar

    VW continues to miss the mark with its delusional dreams of world domination.

  • avatar

    Based on the banner photo, I’d say VW are going to have to improve the quality of their badge engineering (or should I say Badge Engineering) if they are going to be successful.

  • avatar

    Increase market share, huh? May I suggest they might try making quality products that don’t break every few months. Or have dealerships who aren’t scumbags and don’t promote adversarial relationships between their service department and their customers. Or don’t charge a price premium for a turd just because it is “German Engineered*”.
    *assembled in Mexico by starving children

  • avatar

    I’d rather they give us a microbus!

  • avatar

    VW just doesn’t GET IT!
    Offer better warranties, better quality materials and models that actually EXCITE the consumer and you might just have a chance.
    Case in point: Hyundai.

  • avatar

    New Jetta is bigger and cheaper, Passat replacement is bigger and cheaper, maybe this will replace the Toureg and be bigger and cheaper.  It’s ironic that VW wants to sell more lower profit VWs than the higher profit Audis.  GM has no desire to sell more Chevys in China than Buicks.

    • 0 avatar

      It isn’t ironic (Damn you Alanis Morrisette!) but it does seem pretty foolish. For some reason VW always seems to be way out of date with the market in the US. This is just the same as they always do — create a strategy based on trends from several years ago. And as usual, it’s exactly the opposite of what the market wants today.

  • avatar

    Why would anyone want a car bigger than a Touareg?

  • avatar

    Gentlemen!  Every single Volkswagen thread makes reference to poor quality, poor reliability, poor dealer experience, etc.
    Just for once, I’d like to see one of TTAC personnel interview someone within Vokswagen  with these comments and hear from the company what their take is on the situation

    • 0 avatar


      I don’t think you would get a very good response from Volkswagen. My friend with a 2006 TDI had a glowplug check engine light, and his local dealer was giving him the runaround. He tried calling Volkswagen corporate, and they berated him on the phone, and basically inferred that he was an idiot. This guy is a certified airframe and powerplant mechanic, and is without a doubt no idiot. My friend replaced the glowplug himself, and the problem was solved. Bottom line is, that for the cost of a glowplug, Volkswagen lost a customer. He used to be a VW supporter, but has now decided to look elsewhere. I would normally dismiss such stories, but I have known him for 40 years.

    • 0 avatar

      That story challenges reality.  VW corporate berated him on the phone so he changed the glow-plug himself and all was then well?

    • 0 avatar

      Regarding BMWfan’s friend, VWoA got what it wanted – the customer got so fed up he just went away and fixed the problem himself at no warranty cost to VWoA. It’s a short sighted strategy, but its one that VWoA embraces whole-hartedly and executes with consistency.
      No matter how great VW makes the products (or cheap since that seems to be the new U.S. strategy), prospective owners just have to accept that dealer and corporate interactions are going to be unfulfilling experiences, or worse.
      In my dealings with VW of America, the customer support people (or whatever their job title is) didn’t exactly berate me, but the representatives definitely weren’t friendly, cheerful and nice. Making it worse, I often got demonstrably wrong or total nonsense answers (example: wood trim that cracked two months into ownership wasn’t covered under the warranty because it is a wear-and-tear item. Apparently like wiper blades and brake pads, the wood wears away slowly over time due to being looked at and you have to periodically replace it to restore full wood performance.)
      I had to escalate, etc. and eventually got what I requested (you know, totally unreasonable things like fix items that are guaranteed under the new car warranty) but VWoA made it a pain in the neck. Sadly, this all happened back in the days when Touareg and Phaeton owners had a special, dedicated support line for our “high end” cars. I shudder to think what the owner of a humble, entry level Jetta was subjected to. That kind of nonsensical, uncaring and unfriendly treatment seems to be par for the course for VW owners in the U.S.

    • 0 avatar

      My experience with VWOA was just as described by BMWfan and Silvy_nonsense. It was years ago (the mid 80s through early 90s), but I used to work for a VW dealer in Van Nuys as well as owning a pair of Golfs. Much as I love the cars themselves, the company is incredibly arrogant and they really treat US customers like we’re undeserving and bothersome. They’ve always had some really good local people working for them too, but they get no support from above. It;s a shame.

  • avatar

    VW has two issues – first quality sucks [INSERT THAT ISN’T TRUE STRAWMAN ARGUMENT HERE] and just as Detroit is having to live down 20 to 30 years of building crap, VW is having to live down the 10 to 15 years of utter crap they built through the mid-point of the prior decade.
    The second issue isn’t a Detroit issue but a North American market that doesn’t gravitate to small cars.  Honda has it figured out, because the “Accord” is the TSX and we get – the fullsize Accord which gets bigger and bigger with each iteration.
    My concern with this is VW/Porsche/Audi doing more and more badge engineering, and not differentiating all that much on price.  That strategy typically doesn’t work.

  • avatar
    Rental Man

    YES. I would like to see a de-contended 7 passenger SUV from VW. And make it reliable and market competitively priced.
    Why does this bother so many people? The Touareg has too much tech for the mass market that just wants a 7pass SUV on a FWD based sedan platform with optional AWD for those that need / want it.

    Toyota has RAV4, Highlander, Venza, 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Sequoia and 3 more at Lexus. It is a numbers game and Toyota is the target. VW has only 2 SUV’s in the market and those clearly were not positioned mainstream America. Not in size, not in price.
    New NMS sedan platform in a raised wagon guise = The VW Highlander / Ford Flex Ford Explorer.

    Now if that has a Turbo Diesel and a manual trans. everyone on TTAC would be wanting one. Gas problem? Partially solved.

  • avatar

    My Hyundai dealer treats me much better than the VW dealer treated my Dad.  He and I both agree that VW lost it’s way once the aircooled cars were gone.  VW used to stand out because of their excellent dealer service, which was heads and shoulders above the domestic dealers.  They sold millions of slow, uncomfortable cars based on 1930’s technology despite the best modern designs that Detroit could throw at them because VW took every contact as an opportunity to foster positive feeling about owning a VW.  Now, they’re no better than any other dealer and are perceived as being worse because owning a VW means many trips to the dealer for service.

    • 0 avatar

      This is soooo true, MarcKyle64. One of the reasons Detroit bombed with their 70s small cars is because they benchmarked the VW Bug for their efforts: an ancient design. They made “better” small cars on paper [more modern at least], trumpeted the lack of planned obsolescence in keeping the cars “the same” year after year but they forgot the quality part that built VW’s reputation. 

      Then VW lost it’s way. They’ve been building unreliable cars for way more than 10 or 15 years as another poster suggested, but equally as long as Detroit, starting in the 70s.

      They’ll make their numbers a couple of years then flame out fast once the public realizes what sort of mistake they made. Call it the “Citation Effect”.

  • avatar

    VW is now recognizing that the US may need a very market-specific approach, and that the smaller and relatively fuel efficient vehicles that seem to work in the rest of the world may not sell here. This is basically a gamble involving the US economy, the euro-dollar exchange rate, and the gas price. If gas goes up quickly to $6-$7 a gallon (which is not totally inconceivable) the US car market may be transformed into something closely resembling the German car market, and VW would not have to do anything to find itself having the perfect vehicles for the US. However, if the gas price continues to stay on a level that allows Americans to afford their full-size SUVs, then VW would continue to be selling vehicles in the US that are more niche players than they would like. It seems that VW has recently switched to adopting a US specific approach to the US market. It will be interesting to see how this works out.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Robbie, as long as Americans continue to procreate and as long as laws and/or social norms require that children be transported in the back seat, young ones in huge car seats, then American families will pay whatever it takes to transport children in big cars and minivans.  Single people without children want cars that project a sufficient level of success to score in the mating game.  Not sure why, but old people like huge cars that they drive very little.  Once you subtract these groups, there is very little market left for small hatchbacks.  If gasoline prices doubled, I could see more interest in fuel efficient 4 cylinder mid-size cars over trucks as well as more interest in cars that could run on compressed natural gas or electricity, but no way European small cars suddenly become popular in the US.

  • avatar

    While our 03 Jetta wagon has seen far too many trips for service, I must confess that we’ve had very good experience dealing with the VW dealership locally, and VW in general. We just had the catalytic converter replaced under warranty last year, and this year they replaced the entire back hatch because of rust perforation around the glass. While most repairs are more costly than we’d like (and on this particular vehicle, more frequent than we’d like as well), the actual quality of service we’ve received has been commendable.

    By the way, I just had the weirdest experience on this site. I went to log in and the screen told me I was already logged in as Ben Johnson (???). I refreshed the site and everything was normal again. Anyone else have an experience like that?

    • 0 avatar

      I came up as logged in as someone other than me yesterday.  It might have been “Ben Johnson”, though I don’t remember for sure.

    • 0 avatar

      About a half dozen times over the past year or so I clicked reply and found I was logged in as someone else. Different people every time.

      The admins for this site are not on the ball.

  • avatar

    With the Toureg tipping the scales around 5,000 pounds how much will the new full size weigh?
    Maybe VW should ask Honda and Nissan how well their full size pickups have worked out in the U.S. market.

  • avatar

    VW, please work out the US market. The competition must be leapfrogged. Have you walked through our airports? We need four-person wide vehicles to fit three person girth. Toyota execs will be slack-jawed. “Why didn’t we think of that?”. Hell, why not four rows?

  • avatar

    How ’bout selling double-wides?

  • avatar

    You know, VW would do a lot better in the US if they dropped their dim view of US drivers and brought over their entire model and engine range that they sell elsewhere. Do they really think there’s no market for the Polo, Lupo/Fox, Touran, Sharan, Passat Estate, Caddy etc here, or the good engines like the TSFI range or the punchier TDIs?
    Turning Toyota Beige doesn’t seem like a winning strategy, but what do I know…

    • 0 avatar

      And the same could be said for all the other companies: Ford, BMW, M-B, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, etc. And I think if companies focused on fewer model variations world-wide, then cars would be more reliable in the electronics and software from more debugging time. I would love to have the choice of a BMW 125d 5-door hatch manual! But frankly the time for electric cars is here: efficiency and simplicity that can’t be beat when it’s ready.

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