Slow Growth In 2013 Will Put The Brakes On Volkswagen's Ambitious Stateside Growth

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
slow growth in 2013 will put the brakes on volkswagens ambitious stateside growth

Remember when Volkswagen’s goal of 800,000 units in America seemed utterly implausible? TTAC does. But Volkswagen, which was in the dumps not too long ago, is now more than half-way to their goal, selling 438,000 units in the United States, a 35 percent jump over last year. But that kind of growth isn’t likely to carry over for 2013.

VW USA CEO Jonathan Browning is taking a “cautious” view regarding growth in 2013, despite his prediction of a 15 million unit market in 2013. The slow growth could come as a result of white-hot products, like the Passat, Jetta and Beetle, losing some of their luster as a result of being on sale for a longer period of time. Updated products like the new Golf and a rumored three-row crossover are still on the horizon.

Meanwhile, Audi’s target of 200,000 units by 2018, an integral part of Volkswagen Group’s 1 million unit goal, is even closer. Audi has sold just under 140,000 units in 2012, and the 60,000 unit gap should be easier to close given the continued growth in the luxury segment. A new A3 will be competing with the Mercedes-Benz CLA and a revamped BMW 1-Series, while the A4 and other crossover variants in Audi’s “Q” range should help add even more volume. Audi’s rising profile among American consumers seems unlikely to dissipate any time soon either.

Volkswagen as a whole still has to close a substianial gap to reach their ambitious targets, but rather than being a farcical pipe dream, their goals now look achievable – something nobody could have predicted in 2010. Then again, the peanut gallery panned the new-for-America Jetta and Passat, and who’s laughing now?

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  • Oldyak Oldyak on Jan 03, 2013

    Just one question...... Did they solve the 'every light bulb on the car burning out b-4 its time' problem????

    • Thesparrow Thesparrow on Jan 04, 2013

      Not judging by the 2011 Jetta that I saw driving down the freeway at night with absolutely no working tail lights. Even the brake lights didn't work when traffic slowed. I'm guessing this was an electrical issue rather than just bulbs, but that incident alone was enough to scare me from considering one of the newer, cheaper-made-south-of-the-border VWs.

  • 360joules 360joules on Jan 04, 2013

    Co-worker currently has dealer chasing all sorts of peculiar electrical gremlins in 2011 Jetta: never-wrecked-always-dealer-serviced. Too late to lemon law. Sad for VW because she otherwise loves the car.

    • See 1 previous
    • 360joules 360joules on Jan 04, 2013

      @wsn Correct, they have her money. I hear her routinely talk co-workers out of VW. Usually new-hire 20-somethings ready to buy their first new car.

  • Whatnext Whatnext on Jan 04, 2013

    Oh yawn, the usual chicken little comments about VW quality. I've got a 2 year old Jetta TDI that's had no problems other than a faulty fuel guage sending unit. Which is the same problem I had on my generic GM compact 10 years ago. And a far cry better than my 5 year old 3 series that has always eaten 1 litre of oil a month and has alloy wheels apparently made of silly putty, judging by how often they get bent!

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    • Redmondjp Redmondjp on Jan 06, 2013

      @redmondjp Well, it was the low-sulphur fuel that knocked out the seals on my IP a few years ago, and it hit other TDI owners that I know within the same few months as my car so I know it wasn't a fluke. As for bad fuel, all it takes is some water or gas (mistakenly put into the underground diesel tank, which actually happens more than one might think) and you can kiss the IP goodbye - yes, theoretically there is the fuel-water separator, but that doesn't always work (read the Ford 6.0 diesel forums for horror stories on this - and Ford won't warranty anything related to bad fuel either). I'm a big diesel fan, having owned three diesel vehicles in the past ten years (1981 Rabbit, 1981 Datsun 720 SD22, and a 1996 TDI), but any diesel made in the past 10 years I wouldn't personally own because I no longer see a clear advantage over gas with all of the additional emissions equipment, and the maintenance costs on the diesels are far higher when something does go south. Diesel engines use to be simpler, more reliable, longer-lasting, and lower-maintenance than their gasoline counterparts. Those days are over. YMMV

  • HotPotato HotPotato on Jan 07, 2013

    I have owned watercooled VWs my whole life, and spared no expense on maintenance and repair by top-quality shops. Let me put this gently: I think if these new owners are leasing them and handing them back before the warranty is up, they'll be happy. Granted, today's VWs are simpler and cheaper than the marvelous, fiendishly unreliable rebadged Audis of the early 2000s -- those were the automotive equivalent of an abusive relationship (but I love Greta so much! and paying for her latest breakdown just shows how much I care!). But reliability expectations are also higher at the low end of the market: today's Jetta customers are Corolla customers. I wish VW well. But after 20 years of their serial wallet assault, I'm done with them. least until I'm bored of my current reliable non-VW.