By on January 4, 2013

Well, looks like it’s official. The VW Routan is dead.

A Routan-owning TTAC reader alerted us to the announcement via email. After months of idled production, VW announced that the Routan would come back online by summer 2013 – but that never came to pass. Perhaps the long-rumored three-row crossover will finally arrive as a replacement for the Chrysler-based van.

Chrysler and VW have a deal to assemble the van through 2014, but the agreement will have to be scuttled somehow to help end the Routans natural life – and it definitely come from a face to face meeting between Messrs. Marchionne and Piech.

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42 Comments on “Volkswagen Euthanizes The Routan...”

  • avatar

    Oh Routan, we hardly knew ye…

  • avatar

    In other news, Batman has died defending Gotham City. Among those attending his funeral will be several Gotham luminaries, including billionaire Bruce Wayne.

  • avatar

    So they actually did put it out of its misery. Chrysler dealers will probably sell a lot of replacement parts to Routan owners that don’t want to deal with VW part prices.

    • 0 avatar

      Seems like it would be smart to take your Routan to Chrysler/Dodge for service to save money and not deal with awful VW service departments.

      I pour out a 40 for thee, the Routanest Teutonist minivan.

      So the Sharan then? Or a LWB MLB-based Touareg?

      • 0 avatar

        And what makes you think a Chrysler dealer would be any better? For certain I would rather deal with my local VW dealer than my local Chrysler/Jeep dealer, based on dealings with both.

        They don’t call them $tealerships for nothing. If the maker isn’t paying, none of my cars are going anywhere near one other than for parts I can’t get elsewhere. Which in the age of the Internet really means I need it NOW.

        FWIW – my sainted Mother had a Routan for 2.5 years. It was bulletproof, she got a stunning deal on it, and she got decent money for it when she traded it in for a Prius-V. Only problems were truly epically atrocious gas mileage, and it was just too damned big.

      • 0 avatar

        “So the Sharan then?”

        That would be my guess.

      • 0 avatar

        Neither sharan or MLB chassis makes sense. The Sharan would enter a class of two w the Mazda…which I love but no one buys. The MLB is too expensive and I see no longitudinal engines from VW besides the flagship Touareg. Neither chassis looks to be made in NAFTA either. I’d look to the Passat or Audi’s new MQB factory in mexico (q3/tiguan) for a three row vehicle instead.

  • avatar

    Good…. I kept confusing it with that airplane guy.

  • avatar

    That announcement links to a press release from last April – I think that VW’s more recent statement that they are planning on restarting Routan production is still true.

  • avatar
    Mark in Maine

    Dammit – and they were just about to begin sending us the manual Diesel model, too . . .

  • avatar

    File this one under “What is and what should never be”

  • avatar

    Wonder if it got the firing squad. Routan BOOM!

  • avatar

    It is time to unpimp your minivan!

  • avatar

    I have not seen one recently…and that includes at all my local VW dealers.

  • avatar

    I’ll leave this little anecdote to serve as a eulogy for the sadly departed Routan. When I visited the Phaeton factory in Dresden (Germany), at the end of the factory tour you end up in a kind of showroom where you can sit in a Phaeton and a Touareg. It turns out the Phaeton is a medium-sized car, and I found the headroom and legroom lacking (I’m 6’5″). So I asked one of the VW flunkies “Why is the Phaeton so small ?Don’t you have any cars for tall people ?”. His response was to suggest the Routan as an alternative. Perhaps that was his polite way of telling me to get lost.

    By the way, the factory tour is not very interesting and I considered it a big waste of time. There is so much to see in Dresden that I wish I hadn’t spent over an hour in the rather long and boring factory tour. For the first half, they show you the parts of the building where there are no cars being built. At some point, they lead you into a circular room with windows on all the walls, and take a long time to explain that this room is circular and has a lot of windows all around.

  • avatar
    mulled whine

    From their press release;

    “Q. If I have a Routan on order, will my order be cancelled?
    A. No, all customer orders for Routans will be honored”

    Given they haven’t made any in 6 months or so, I guess no one placed an order for one anytime recently.

    Oh well.

  • avatar

    I always wondered why VW paired up with Chrysler for a minivan. They still make their own, don’t they?

    That being said, I liked the styling, but that’s about all. My window for minivan ownership closed 10 years ago. I prefer cars – NOT SUV/CUVs – that’s wifey’s department!

    • 0 avatar

      They don’t make any that are certified to be sold in the US. Which we all know, is EXTREMELY expensive. So this was a way of not losing a few sales on the cheap. It always made sense to me, they just did a fairly lousy job of marketing them. Those early commercials with Brooke Shields were pretty terrible, and then the marketing stopped completely. If you need a 7-passenger van, you can’t go too far wrong with the Chrysler vans. And originally, the VW version with its bespoke suspension setup was MUCH better to drive than a Caravan or a T&C.

      On the strength of having two decent VW dealerships in my area and one really awful Chrysler dealership, I actually see a fair number of them around. That they were selling them at $10-15K off a couple years ago certainly didn’t hurt.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    My question is…what took VW so long to put this thing to pasture? I can recall only seeing one or two of these things. I wonder how much the name of the vehicle had to do with its demise? the name Routan reminded me of some kind of a vegtable.

    • 0 avatar

      “what took VW so long to put this thing to pasture?”

      The agreement between VW and Chrysler runs until the 2014 model year. I would presume that discontinuing it early would have required some sort of penalty payment.

      The minivan deal was signed back when Daimler still owned Chrysler. Obviously, a few things have happened to both Chrysler and to the overall demand for minivans since that time.

      • 0 avatar

        The penalty payment was in the $200-300 million range, according to my general manager friend at a GTA-area VW store. I wonder what will become of all of the leftover production parts? It would be a shame to see all of that stuff end up in the shredder.

  • avatar

    I always thought this was a weird alliance, but Baruth’s review of the 2013 Caravan implied that a good shot of VW’s farfegnugen worked itself into Chrysler’s ubiquitous truckster. Hope this isn’t the end of that.

  • avatar

    Chrysler/Fiat and VW are at each others throats. Chrysler has been offering $1000 cash back to any VW owners (except Routan) on new Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge cars. I’m not really surprised VW is canceling the Routan.

  • avatar

    Maybe they’ll bring their own Caravelles from Europe to the US instead? Here in Indonesia they’re sold with 2.5l diesel engine and DSG transmission! Though I think the gasoline engine version might be better for the US. But then again, VWs are known for its diesel engines…

    They even have a camper version called the California!

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting tidbit from the US PTO files: After Chrysler let its registration of the name expire, VW registered it but let it expire in ’06. Makes one wonder if they didn’t seriously consider it at one point.

  • avatar

    Piech? I really doubt it, unless there is some grand deal to he made visavis Alfa, then, and maybe even, Marty is more than enough to handle it. (Marchionne should be happy to avoid Piech, as that old dude has chewed up and spat out men no lesser than Serigio himself.

  • avatar

    They will continue to build them for “fleet orders” but not for the public. And truth be told, the pairing was based on an agreement between germans. Daimler needed a small car platform for Chrysler back in the day. VW dealers had been begging for a replacement for the Eurovan so they would have a 7 seat vehicle in the US lineup. VW thought it made sense since minivans sold really well. What they didn’t realize until after the fact is that Chrysler was selling them at a net loss. So the same cars coming out of Windsor that VW thought they would do well with were being sold by Chrysler for less than it cost to build them after incentives come into play. Having run a VW store in Detroit that is less than a mile from a Chrysler store (and we’re 2 miles from Auburn Hills) I can tell you that the “Rotten” was the worst thing to happen to morale at my store in the 8 years I’ve been here. As a bunch of enthusiasts who make a living selling the cars we drive, the van was an albatross from day 1.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m guessing that I’m not the only family man out there who is considering one of these for the right price. Any idea what it would take to get a 2012 SE or SEL off the lot? A Chicago area dealer has 2012 SE’s on Autotrader for $25K, down from the $32K MSRP. How much further will the dealers go?

  • avatar

    This will really hurt VW’s plan for world domination. Or not.

  • avatar
    car follower

    It must have been embarrassing for a VW salesman to look a customer in the eye when he/she told a prospect the price of a Routan. The arrangement between Chrysler and VW was a bad deal for the VW dealer as the Company was the only one that made any money.
    Whenever I saw a Routan on the street which wasn’t very often I couldn’t help think that driver was ripped off or the dealer dumped it at cost after it sat on his lot for months on end.

    • 0 avatar

      Uh, why would that be? At MSRP they cost about the same as a similarly equipped Chrysler Town & Country (which is what it is, after all), and were nicer to drive as the VW version got a better suspension setup. And then they discounted them epically.

      Really, the only issue is that they launched the thing right into Carmaggeddon – you know, that couple years when the housing bubble burst, the economy and credit markets crashed, and nobody was buying new cars? An OK idea launched with really bad timing. I’m sure VW wasn’t thinking they would sell 100K of these a year.

      Where did this idea come from that Routans had some crazy MSRP? They were no more crazily priced than a Town & Country. Which might seem crazy compared to a stripper Caravan, but the loaded version of a car always costs.

  • avatar

    what, not many hipsters want minivans? I’ve questioned the existence of Routan since its inception.

    I wonder if VW ever hit their sales target with this…thing.

  • avatar

    Oh gosh I have always wanted to pay 10,000 more to get a Grand Caravan complete with rude service desk people and crappy techs. Now where can a fellow go to overpay and be insulted at the same time. Silly me I forgot I could buy a Vanagon I suppose.

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