By on January 30, 2013

With only a 1.9 percent of lost sales in the black hole called Europe, Volkswagen remains relatively unaffected by the European contagion, especially compared to PSA (- 12.9 percent), Renault (-19.1 percent), Opel (- 15.8 percent), Ford (- 13.2 percent) and Fiat (- 16.1 percent). But Volkswagen can’t walk on water either. Volkswagen is throttling down the production of its bread & butter car, the Passat in reaction to lackluster demand.

Volkswagen’s Emden plant will give its workers four long weekends by closing on three Fridays this month and one in March, says Automobilwoche [sub]. Emden workers already received an extra holiday week during Christmas to adapt supply to demand.

Along with the Golf, the Audi A4 and Audi A6, the Passat is one oft he most popular models in the stable of the Volkswagen Group.

No rest for the weary workers of the new Golf MK7: Demand is so high that the unions had to approve overtime.

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25 Comments on “Volkswagen Steps On The Brakes Of The Passat...”

  • avatar

    Re: video

    Too bad all those shiny Passats are absolutely crushed by the Japanese, Korean and U.S. competition when it comes to long-term durability and overall reliability.

    But at least it seems to be a nice place to work.

    • 0 avatar

      THOSE Passats are not crushed by anyone, because THOSE Passats are not sold in the US. Our Passats come from Tennessee, and all they share is the name with the European car. Also, if you look closely at that picture the majority of the cars are station wagons. Harumph!

      • 0 avatar
        Athos Nobile

        Nonsense. I am not a VW fan, but the current Jetta and Passat are perfectly passable, and I would venture to say nice, family cars.

        The Jetta looks like an A4 mini-me, and from my curbside observations it is nicely finished. I can see why people would buy them.

        The Passat is a bit uglier, but nothing offensive, maybe some better headlamps/grille could fix that. I’ve seen a lot of those here.

        And if VW went to the extent of building a factory in the US for a D segment car it was not to get crushed by anyone.

  • avatar
    Polar Bear

    My uncle was putting 250.000 km on his frog green first generation Passat before trading it in, same engine and gearbox, in city driving even. It was a manual, so he had to change the clutch.

    Reliable and durable are two different things… While I understand complaints about (some) modern Volkswagens being unreliable because of all the untested fancy high-tech they put in, I haven’t considered them to be un-durable. I keep seeing people put several hundred thousand km on Volkswagens, and 2nd hand prices remain high.

    I guess Volkswagens don’t take abuse as well as, say, a Corolla. European cars are made assuming owners are responsible individuals who change oil & filters on time.

    I notice some Americans bash Volkswagen loudly on TTAC. But where I am from Volkswagen has been the number one brand for ages, and it is no way they could remain so making crappy cars. So what is going on here? Are American Volkswagens worse than European ones? Are Europeans more anal about following service schedules? Does nationalistic sentiment play a role, like it does when Europeans bash Boeing and Americans bash Airbus?

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve lived for a few periods of time in Hong Kong. VWs have generally been known to be crap back in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and on – so that’s your 3rd party view on VW sans the nationalistic sentiments (Audi does much better there, however).

      Most people in the US that I know who had a Passat or Golf were engineers who were OCD Asperger cases who serviced their car at the dealer at exactly the specified intervals (and their OCD-ness had them made sure that their VWs were German-manufactured) Most still promptly fell apart shortly after the conclusion of their respective warranty periods – some even requiring major transmission/electrical overhauls before 30k miles. Most of them went and bought TSXes and Sonatas before long.

      They’re just inferior products in terms of long term reliability and durability – their only selling points are the “feel” and “style”. There’s just way too much anecdotal and real consumer data to claim otherwise. Maybe it’s an issue with low expectations – do Europeans expect their cars to last 10-12 years without major issues like Americans do? I knew a woman who loved her late 80s Chrysler Town and Country, and would buy another, because the “nice company” promptly replaced her transmission even after it broke the 3rd time at 40k miles, no questions asked.

      • 0 avatar

        I’d say with all the old VWs i see on the roads, your comment is anecdotal at best. Americans are generally pretty careless people, and not willing to follow maintenance schedule is not an excuse to bash a company. Perhaps part of the driving license test should be ability to change a tire and check oil level.

        And by the way, i am not VW fanboy, and i am currently driving Fiat 500. According to other “experts” posting here, it should’ve self destructed within a week of me driving off dealer’s lot. So far, 1 year, 14K miles, 0 issues, regular and easy 42MPG.

        Just not willing to spend beige existence, driving beige Camcord to cubicle and back. There are too many fun, nice cars to be driving boring appliances.

      • 0 avatar
        Polar Bear

        It is rather confusing with Volkswagen storming ahead towards world domination, but in a hail of complaints about how bad their cars are.

        I looked up the average car age in Europe. 8 years. Yes, Europeans expect their cars to last. I have seen data showing that repair costs only start to rise significantly after 12 years.

        Warranty Direct in the UK has Volkswagen at number 23 of 38 car brands, based on a fleet of 50.000 cars they maintain. Is that bad? If 19 is the middle of the index, Volkswagen is in the “average” zone . Daihatsu is best at number one. Land Rover is number 38.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a MkIV Jetta wagon with the 1.8T. I bought it second hand with 36k miles on the clock. Over two years, I put another 40k, trouble-free miles. When I sold it, which I only did because of being offered use of a free car compared to making payments, it was with reluctance. I enjoyed my Jetta and I only wished the fuel consumption was better.

      But Felix is right. My car was a 2004, which VW had largely worked out the bugs in the MkIV cars. The first cars of the MkIV Jettas (99-05) and Passats of the same timeframe, like many new cars introduced around the turn of the century, had a lot of initial problems. Like most manufacturers, VW refused to admit problems initially. The sludge with the 1.8 engine, the coil packs and a host of other problems with lots of cars soured people to VW here.

      Your point about maintenance is valid. Many people here give zero thought to maintaining their cars and even then, only to oil changes. How many problems are caused by only repairing and not maintaining is anyone’s guess.

      I’m sure there is some nationalism involved too. As a pilot, I find Airbus fascinating, but too much control is given to the automation. The automation is given the last word in flying the airplane in Airbus aircraft, where as Boeing still has the pilot having the final say, for the most part.

      The increasing reliance on automation and being taught that way is making us weak as pilots on basic flying skills. The Air France crash of an A330 two years ago is a partial testament to that, though the human errors that ultimately caused the accident could have happened in any manufacturers plane.

      Parallels to the automotive world are unavoidable. Think of your average MB, BMW or Audi and what comes to mind? The technology. Not that American cars don’t have a lot of the same tech, but their incorporation is usually different or they are much slower to adopt it.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Volkswagen seems to want US customers to adapt to tradeoff choices made by superior Germans while the Japanese are willing to design cars better adapted to the American way of life. I’ve seen boring Toyota sedans survive incredible levels of neglect with no unplanned repairs while it’s not unusual to see a Volkswagen owner driving a dealer loaner car. I’m sure Volkswagen is capable of keeping much of the good German engineering in areas like suspension tuning while also optimizing the engine and transmission for minimum time in the shop, but so far they refuse.

      • 0 avatar

        “while the Japanese are willing to design cars better adapted to the American way of life. I’ve seen boring Toyota sedans survive incredible levels of neglect”

        Yeah, the number of times I hear someone on TTAC say, “I put nothing in that Corolla except gas and oil for 1xx,000 miles,” I always wonder if the wheels were about to fall off, if the brakes worked sufficiently, if the CV boots were leaking causing the axle to make noise, what the engine sounded like, what fluids it leaked, how many CEL codes were being thrown, what the alignment was like and whether you heard clunking/grinding, how much noise the power steering made, etc.

        When I’m a pedestrian, I can tell by sound when some vehicles aren’t maintained well. The problem seems to have only increased during these recessionary times due to increased deferred maintenance.

  • avatar

    prior to mkv they were bad but took a big leap forward after 2005 or so. Most of those said korean,japanese american cars mentioned are numb and appliance like

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Polar Bear,

    In the US VW has worked had to achieve the worst customer satisfaction ratings in the industry. They achieved this over a decade starting around 1997 through:

    1. Inept electronics that local dealers can’t seem to fix, but are glad to charge for.

    2. Use of cheap parts resulting in expensive repairs – ex window regulators, window channels, and every moving plastic part inside of the car.

    3. A potent combination of arrogance and ineptitude by the service personnel.

    4. Not honoring warranties with a fight (oil sludging)

    5. Smarmy sales people who know less about the product than the customers.

    These are a few reasons that I have heard directly from friends who swore off the brand. I have never owned a VW product because of their bad reputation among my friends.
    My list is probably the tip of the iceberg so feel free to add to it.

    • 0 avatar

      #5 was true for me, though that seems to fit most car dealers,especially volume dealers. I’ve found most salespeople have sold other things in their career; insurance,jewelry,furniture,etc. They only view the car as another sale, memorize some facts about the product and begin the “what can we do to put you in this car today?” spiel. Which for 90% of the car buying public works,since they see a car the same way they see a refrigerator . For us enthusiasts, it’s not the case.

      My soon to be wife was shopping for cars in 2002. We went to a VW dealer and dealt with one of the slimiest salesmen I can recall in my purchasing of cars. This guy was a total grease-ball, slicked back hair, pack of Newport Menthols hanging out of his pocket. Again, this guy could have been anywhere selling anything, but it fits your characterization of VW in the early 2000’s

      She liked the Jetta, but was concerned about money(God only knows what she’d be driving if it wasn’t for me ;) I told her to only consider the 1.8T car, as I would have to drive it and I didn’t want to drive the boat anchor 2.0. The turbo car was obviously more money and she balked. Typical salesmen response of “well, you don’t need the turbo” followed. My father in law who went back to the dealer with her, because she’s still the “little lady” in the eyes of the salesmen, said “Look, if she says she wants the turbo engine, then that’s what she wants”. The salesman was rather unpleasant after that, so they left.

      We ended up leasing a Subaru from a different dealer. The Subie was a good car, though fuel mileage was awful and we may have dodged a bullet not buying an early 2000’s VW.

      • 0 avatar

        The salesman my dad bought his first Audi from had been selling cars all his life – and was rather good at it – but knew nothing about cars. One customer asked “how big is the engine?” (meaning either horsepower rating in comparison with the other engines in the line up or engine displacement), he replied by holding out his arms one way then the other, while saying “it’s ’bout this size”. Another customer asked him “is it a straight six”, he replied “are there curvy engines?”. His technical ineptitude helped him move quattros like hot cake “even I understand that it’s stupid having two wheals doing nothing but holding up the rear end of a car”. Sadly he passed away a couple of years ago.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s funny, MeaCulpa. Obviously the guy wasn’t your average salesmen. My folks bought a few Nissan off of one salesman who treated them like people. It’s tough if you don’t buy cars often, because salespeople tend to shift dealerships or jobs like the wind.

  • avatar

    I would gladly pay $2000 or so more, over the life of the car, than be caught driving a penalty box like a Corolla. If anyone drove any european car and japanese car side by side, there’s no comparison in how they feel. I’ve had a 2003 Golf that i bought brand new, and aside from couple annoying buzzes that service had trouble locating, there were absolutely no issues with it. I’ve had used 2000 Passat V6 that i bought in 2008, that was wonderful to drive, and in my 2 years of ownership and over 30K miles (i get bored quickly) i’ve spent $150 on a new axle. No other expenses outside of scheduled maintenance. New Golfs are recommended by Consumer Reports. I absolutely don’t understand these dufuses that comment with reliability/durability issues that are over 10-15 years old history. Are you not going to by any Ford because Pinto was bad? Are you not going to buy Toyotas because in late 90’s and early 2000’s their Camrys had sludge issues? Why is it only european brands that get dumped on, while sheeple masses go quietly about paying $$$$ replacing transmissions in their out of warranty Accords/Odysseys, engines in their Camrys, etc etc. all the while swearing by their “bulletproof” reliability? There must be something in the glue that they use in building new jap cars.

    • 0 avatar

      Anyone can cherry-pick individual examples of reliable and durable cars from any make. But those same Consumer Reports surveys show that AS A GROUP, Volkswagens and other German-brand cars become more troublesome as they age when compared to the major Japanese brands.

      I didn’t mind that my Volkswagens cost me more to own than the Japanese alternatives. I minded that the maintenance was unscheduled, the cars repeatedly left me stranded, and neither the dealer nor the zone office gave a damn. That’s a cost that no car buyer today has to accept, and I no longer do.

      • 0 avatar

        I can agree on dealer service, as it’s generally known fact that their dealer service was atrocious (at least at the time i owned VWs). VW shot themselves in the foot on not paying close attention to their franchised dealers screwing their customers. If someone did have an issue with the car, it goes a loooooooong way when they feel appreciated, instead of a nuisance.

  • avatar

    Well, the Passat was launched in 2005 and is now 8 years old! No wonder it’s not selling like it used to.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      You missed the last model change, then … the current models (neither North American nor European) are the generation after the one that started in 2005-2006. And even then, that was far from the first generation of that car. Try 1973 …

  • avatar

    Hard to explain. Friends of our had Jetta and Passat and continual problems. Will never own VW again. (they neglect their vehicles, but current RAV 4 seems to be doing ok.)

    My daughter has a 2004 Jetta 1.8l engine with stick. 135000 miles, only 1 problem, water pump.

    Worse car my wife and I had was Toyota Camry wagon with a V6 and automatic. Second time engine imploded, sold it to a mechanic who then bought used engine for it. Worst dealership experiences we ever had by far.

    We are now an Audi family with 2006 A4, 2001 Audi TT roadster (140000 mi>) and 2011 Q5. ( 4 cyl.) No real issues, very good customer service so far.

  • avatar
    Brian P

    I have a 2006 Jetta TDI with 414,000 km on it, and it has been the best vehicle I’ve ever owned. It’s getting to the point where I will have to spend some money on a few things, but I really can’t fault it at this point. I can tell you one thing, though … I will not be spending that money on a new Corolla. But, I don’t like the current Jetta (or Passat) either. So, I’ll fix mine and keep on going.

    In my view, VW in North America has two main headwinds with regards to their reputation … negligent owners who don’t follow proper maintenance procedures, and the dealer network who are often guilty of the same (and their problem-denying, warranty-denying, blame-game-playing overseers, VWoA). There is no car built that is completely without faults of some sort. When this happens, VW’s policy is, and has always been, deny, deny, deny. Mine has not seen the inside of a dealer’s shop since the last service before the end of the warranty period.

  • avatar

    I don’t see how this is really news. So car sales in Europe are down. Predicted to stay that way. VW is still WINNING in every way imaginable. A slight reduction in production is SMART – why flood dealers with Passats and then have to incentivize them?

    • 0 avatar

      Dealer flooding is quite rare in Europe, even showroom cars/stock is built to the dealers order, so “channel stuffing” was never a realistic option. Incentives to keep production lines open does happen at times as does some other incentives but not really of the “forcing cars down dealers throats verity”.

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