Ask The Best And Brightest: Where Did The VW Buyers Go?

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
ask the best and brightest where did the vw buyers go

Back in 2001 VW was the comeback kid . Sales had grown over seven-fold in only eight years from less than 50k in 1993 to over 350k and change. It seemed like the company was offering everything an aspiring Yuppie wanted to buy. At least here in the States. Cute Jettas and Beetles for the successful young female (and a few males). Turbochargers, stickshifts, and GTI’s for those who coveted a sport model. Diesels for the frugal and the long-term owner. Even wagons and convertibles for those who were flipping between becoming a ‘family man’ or a mid-life crisis. VW was hip and profitable… but then the market woke up.

By 2005 I started to see VW’s being traded-back en masse and wholesaled at the auctions. An article I wrote, Kiametrics, highlighted VW’s inability to make anything for the keepers among us. The turbocharged engines were sludge machines. The plastics inside the cars came apart and the cost of replacing them bordered on the usurious. Automatics were grenading themselves to such a militant degree, that it became a task and a half to just find one at the nearby junkyards. At the recycling centers and pull-a-part’s few vehicles could match the stripitude of a late model VW.

We know how this ended. The VW dealerships were left with angry and increasingly broke customers who began looking elsewhere. The question for today is… “Where did those customers go?”

Did they Toyonda themselves into a world where reliability took precedence over everything else?

Did they find the next hip car in the form of a Subaru?

Or did most of them become used car buyers? Forever financially stung by the black hole of VW depreciation.

As with all politicians and most college courses, you can ‘swag’ your way into a right answer. Extra credit is given to any answer involving Elvis or extra terrestrials. Penmanship counts. Good luck.

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  • Jeffzekas Jeffzekas on Mar 10, 2011

    Okay, Mr Lang-- everyone has registered their angst... so, tell us: where DID all the VW owners go?

  • Asummers Asummers on Mar 10, 2011

    I currently own a 2004 VW Phaeton, which I bought almost exactly 2 years ago. I went in having done my due diligence. The first Phaeton I looked at had a complete service history.. By that I mean an inch-thick stack of service receipts in the glove box, before 65K miles. That scared me a little, but the vibration coming from the right front scared me more. Maybe it was an out-of-balance tire, maybe it was a few thousand in suspension work. The second Phaeton I looked at (well, didn't really look at - bought it sight unseen) was owned by a well-respected enthusiast, and the car was vouched-for by the moderator of a popular VW forum. The only thing that ever went wrong with it in 85K was replacement of the rear wheel bearings at 71K. All maintenance was done to the VW schedule including timing belt. The car now has 110K miles on it, and has been perfect, and still is perfect. Original brakes, Original batteries, original everything. Original coil packs. Even though there is a recall out for the coil packs I haven't bothered. Never had a misfire. I don't understand how one car can be so perfect, and the next car off the assembly line can be so horrible. Is it an electrical problem that routes its way through the car and destroys systems? This is a recurring theme with VW owners I talk to. Some are wonderful, others of the same model fall apart. Owners of the good cars blame the bad ones on poor maintenance, but I know that's not always true. For anyone who hasn't seen where the Phaeton and Bentley Continental are made, check out How can vehicles made on an assembly line like this vary in quality so much?

  • Inside Looking Out This is actually the answer to the question I asked not that long ago.
  • Inside Looking Out Regarding "narrow windows" - the trend is that windows will eventually be replaced by big OLED screens displaying some exotic place or may even other planet.
  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...
  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that