China May Get A Low Cost Volkswagen
A low-cost Volkswagen, selling for between 5,000 and 10,000 euros, might be earmarked for China, and the range could include – brace yourselves – a station wagon!
Spurred by the prospect of having no competitor for Dacia and Datsun cars, VW is exploring their options. Reuters claims that a small sedan, a van and a wagon are under consideration. “More than 3 million so-called budget cars are sold in China every year, making it the biggest market in that segment,” says Reuters. VW wants to play.
While VW is a big player in China, it lacks a presence in India and Southeast Asia, two booming markets where a low-cost car is important. The up! is positioned as a more premium option in the small car space, and would be unsuitable for the task.
A few concerns lay ahead for VW; first, would it keep the VW badge? Rumors say it wont, and is looking for a new (or bsrely used old) brand. Second, how would VW develop it on the cheap? Reports indicate that existing technology would be used, but it’s hard to fathom that anything other than old platforms and engines would enable VW to do it profitably.
Possibly the biggest problem for VW: 10,000 EUR may be regarded as “low cost” in Europe, but it is rich in developing markets. Renault is working on something much lower cost …
The DKW and NSU brands are sitting on the shelf in some dusty vault in Wolfsburg, ready to be revived. (I'll assume that Horch and Wanderer are inappropriate for a low-cost brand.) Ironically, MQB might yet be the least expensive option, just with less expensive components, such as torsion axle rear suspensions.
While most would deem it obsolete, the 2nd generation Jetta is alive and well in China, albeit in a heavily revised form: http://www.carnewschina.com/2011/12/15/new-volkswagen-jetta-to-be-listed-in-china-in-2013/ I am sure that with some modern safety updates, and priced competitively (i.e. cheaper a Dacia), it would remain competitive in the marketplace. Heck, add a wagon variant, and it even meets the needs for hauling cargo. A car like this holds certain attractions in the rural market. Readily available parts (the care has been in production for nearly three decades!), rock solid reliability (every possible issue has been long worked out on this design), and general ease of service, all contribute to a perfect "Third World" vehicle. Certainly, if safety standards were brought on par with current norms (strategic use of high-strength steel to improve crashworthiness, side airbags), this thing may even have export potential in lesser affluent foreign markets.
I still miss my MK2 Jetta. I like the styling of this rendition in China. I'd like to import one.
I want a low cost VW TOOOOOO!!!