The Volkswagen Eos Is Dead: Here's Why
RX-8, FJ Cruiser, XLR: just some of the recent nameplates which at one time generated healthy sales activity in the U.S., but after slowly fading in un-updated form, were put out to pasture. Now we can add to that list the Volkswagen Eos.
Cars like the Eos, which major on style over practicality, are prone to early bouts of desirability which wanes as newer, fresher, brighter, bolder, faster machines enter the fray. It’s not surprising to see interest in these vehicles dry up more quickly than it does with a midsize sedan or smaller crossover.
Consider the Chevrolet Equinox. Sales in the Equinox’s category have been steadily rising – vehicles such as the top-selling Honda CR-V and Ford Escape recorded record-high U.S. sales in 2013. But they are newer examples of the breed. The Equinox, on the other hand, was introduced in second-generation form for the 2010 model year. Yet in 2013 it, too, posted record-high U.S. volume.
On the other side of that coin, consider the Chevrolet Corvette. Although it’s a relatively common car for a vehicle of its type, at least in the United States, Corvette sales in its sixth iteration declined sharply in 2007, 2008, and 2009 and didn’t recover as the overall size of the new car market grew somewhat in 2010, growing only slightly in 2011 and 2012.
New is necessary. Corvette sales, now in C7 Stingray form, jumped 166% in the fourth quarter of 2013 and are up 236% so far this year. The Corvette is on track for its best U.S. sales year since 2006.
The Volkswagen Eos is certainly no Corvette, but neither were the Mazda RX-8, Toyota FJ Cruiser, or Cadillac XLR. (Actually, the XLR was sort of a Corvette.) The point stands, regardless. An automaker can’t introduce a sporty little convertible, even one without trackday intentions, and expect consumer interest to remain level during its tenure.
The first and only Eos has been around since the latter portion of 2006, when Mercury was selling a Montego – when Mercury was – and when an Eos buyer could have also looked at a Pontiac G6 GTP convertible.
Though facelifted, the Eos was always as it always was. Equipped with Volkswagen’s ubiquitous 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder or, in the early part of its lifespan, a 3.2L V6, the Eos was a relatively attractive front-wheel-drive convertible. Along with the front-wheel-drive Volvo C70, it was tasked with fighting premium Germans from below and affordable droptop performance cars from above.
Most definitely from above. Back in the beginning, Mazda would sell you an MX-5 PRHT for about $5000 less.
And yet, the Eos was a new thing, and thus, when Mazda USA sold 15,075 more affordable MX-5s in 2007, Volkswagen sold 12,744 Eos convertibles. And in 2008, the Eos actually outsold the MX-5. The Eos outsold the MX-5 again in 2010 and 2011. Isn’t this a recipe for printing money? Sell the more expensive car, the one that shares a great number of parts with countless other high-volume machines?
Yes, it was, until Volkswagen invited a Beetle Convertible back to the party. Volkswagen USA sold 4178 Eos cabrios in 2013 ( down from a peak of 12,837 in 2008), a figure which compares unfavourably with Volkswagen’s 18,050 Beetle Convertible sales. That’s more than the Eos’s total from all of 2012, 2013, and the first eight months of 2014 combined.
The Eos is dead because, by VW’s choice, it hasn’t been at all new since 2006 and because, by VW’s choice, the iconic and ancient Beetle nameplate became new again.
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