By on October 6, 2014

Golf lineupFollowing 17 consecutive months in which year-over-year volume at the Volkswagen brand declined in the United States, sales fell 19% in September 2014.

These September results ended a third quarter in which VW USA sales fell 15% and a nine-month period in which sales were down 14%.

Few brands have experienced such a drastic decline in America’s expanding automobile market in 2014. Mini, which is slowly providing dealers with new versions of their core Hardtop model, has fallen 21%. Scion – a trio of outdated models, a city car that’s roundly outsold by the Smart Fortwo, and the FR-S – is down 15%. Even Volvo, struggling Volvo, is off 2013’s (rather awful) pace by just 9%; and September Volvo sales were up 11%.

Volkswagen is therefore among disappointing and disappointed company. In terms of September sales alone, Volkswagen’s U.S. volume fell to a four-year low: down 19% year-over-year, down 28% compared with September 2012, down 4% compared with September 2011.

Two years ago, in September 2012, the Volkswagen brand owned 3.1% of the U.S. market. Fast forward to last month, and the brand’s market share had fallen by a full percentage point to just 2.1%.

At the end of the first quarter last year, Volkswagen sales were up 4% compared with the first quarter of 2012, the year in which annual VW sales in America ended up rising to their highest level since 1973; more than doubling the brand’s 2009 output. By this stage last year, we knew something was amiss. Through the first three-quarters of 2013, America’s new vehicle market had grown 8% and Volkswagen sales were down nearly 3%.

“Amiss” turned into “ugly” by year’s end. Sales fell 7% from 2012’s near four-decade high.

Nine months later, the introduction of Volkswagen’s global favourite, the seventh-generation Golf, has not been nearly enough to overcome the losses at the rest of the brand.

September sales of the Beetle plunged 49%. (Included in that total is the Beetle Convertible, sales of which nose-dived 52% last month.) The CC was down 56%. Sales of the cancelled Eos were down 27%. Passat? down 8%. Tiguan? Down 30%. Touareg? Down 2%. The defunct Routan resulted in 232 fewer sales.

Volkswagen USA sales chartTotal Jetta sales fell 23%, as sedan volume dropped by 22% and the SportWagen slid 32%, losses equal to 2474 and 590 units, respectively. The Jetta range was America’s 21st-best-selling vehicle line in September 2013; 37th one year later. From 24th on year-to-date terms in 2013, the Jetta dropped to 29th over the last nine months.

Total Golf sales rose by just 1360 units as Volkswagen’s other models combined for 7284 fewer sales, a 24% loss. GTI volume shot up 48% to 1600 units, 46% of the Golf’s total. (It’s the better seller over the last nine months, with 57% of all Golf sales.) Non-GTI Golfs were up 93% to 1887 in September.

Thus, Volkswagen’s steady decline in the United States stands at 18 months and counting. The whole Subaru vs. Volkswagen thing is increasingly invalid. Meanwhile, across the northerly border, Volkswagen sales jumped 12% last month to the brand’s highest September total ever. The Volkswagen brand’s Canadian market share held steady at 3.8%. It was Volkswagen Canada’s sixth consecutive month of growth; the 42nd in the last 45; and sales are up 7% this year in a market that’s up less than 6%.

Back in the USA and elsewhere in the Volkswagen Group, Audi sales were up 14% in September and Porsche sales jumped 17%. Audi generated 23% of the brand’s volume with the A3 and Q3. More than half of Porsche’s sales are derived from the Cayenne and Macan.

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98 Comments on “September 2014 Sales: Even Uglier For Volkswagen USA...”

  • avatar

    Just wait until the new Phaeton arrives – that will surely turn things around for VW!

  • avatar

    People haven’t forgotten the past design and build quality nightmares. When I was shopping to replace my last machine, the VW saleswoman told me “Everyone builds a lemon every now and then”. I decided to get a Hyundai to replace my Pontiac. It was a good decision. It was certainly better than playing the VW lemon lottery.

    • 0 avatar

      Equal to quality nightmares are at least some of the dealers who seem to think they do not earn long term business. Our local dealers in import-hot Northern California are simply out-classed by competitors selling similar vehicles. Kudos to VW for giving us a diesel passenger car and wagon, but their dealer game must be stepped up.

      • 0 avatar

        Exactly. I remember about ten years ago while waiting for an oil change on my Passat at the local dealer listening to some smarmy service advisor tell a young couple that the $600 in diagnostic charges for a blown fuse were absolutely necessary because “fuses don’t just blow.” I had them give me my keys back and ripped up the R.O: blatant thievery should never be tolerated.

        If the TrueDelta surveys are to be believed, VW seems to be cleaning up its act in regards to quality. Now it needs to clean up its dealers. And match (or exceed) Hyundai/Kia’s warranty: they’re going to have to spend money if they ever want to make any in the US.

        • 0 avatar

          EMedPA –

          Agreed. VW has definitely upped its overall reliability game, but the dealership network still has a way to go. Faced with the choice of a $33k VW or a $33k Audi, it’s almost worth it to go the Audi just for the improved dealership experience and warranty coverage.

      • 0 avatar

        At least in NorCal, a non trivial share of the VW ecosystem, consists of those who save money vis-a-vis BMW, by skimping on everything except for the douchebaggery……

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed. Interestingly, the NorCal dealership where we bought my wife’s 2012 Golf TDI has been quite good. Had the easiest sales experience ever (at a great price) and the service experience has been equally pleasant. And the car has been faultless through 40K now.

        That being said–when I went in for service last week, I took a look at the new cars on the lot–and most had a $3K dealer markup on top of the MSRP. So either this particular dealer is bucking the VW trend, or is exceptionally tone deaf. There’s no way that’s remotely competitive, against other makes or even other VW dealers.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “People haven’t forgotten the past design and build quality nightmares.”

      Maybe. I don’t know if that explains why VW sales were so high in 2012 and now are declining. It’s a curious trend and I wonder what is behind it. I haven’t seen any reliability data suggesting the Jetta and Passat have unusually high repair frequency. I’m guessing that something about the product other than reliability is to blame, whether its pricing, equipment levels vs. the competition, etc.

      • 0 avatar

        In many ways this demonstrates both the power and the limits of good marketing: you can get some really good buzz and a sales injection when its good (albeit for a limited time), but at the end of the day you cannot keep up that momentum if your product isn’t competitive with the rest of the industry.

        Volkswagen zigged when the rest of the market zagged and is caught at the wrong end of things. Like Honda with the current Civic, VW guessed that the market would go downmarket during the recession. Unlike Honda, Volkswagen is both a slow-moving iceberg and stubborn and has refused to QUICKLY make up for its sins and improve the product to get back into the game.

        MQB Jetta and Passat will help ameliorate some of these sales declines, but the biggest issue facing Wolfsburg here in the US is the lack of a truly competitive CUV and SUV duo. The newly, significantly, refreshed CRV demonstrates that Honda is really stepping up their game with an already excellent product – it remains to be seen if VW is capable of moving as quickly and aggressively if they wish to play in this market.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          The baffling lack of a CUV is a huge problem and probably the one explanation for poor sales that most people are correctly identifying here. The immovable iceberg analogy is probably an apt description for why they don’t have one.

    • 0 avatar

      VW doesn’t seem to care much about that reputation over here, either. For some reason, the US-spec EA888 doesn’t get the port-injector behind the intake valve that you’ll find in the same engines in Europe. Hello, carbon build-up.

      This might be explained by different emissions regulations in Europe or something, but there is a reliability related reason to compliment the direct injection setup with these additional port-injectors, yet VW seems more keen to cut costs.

  • avatar

    Isn’t VW the only automaker that sells a diesel wagon with a manual in the US?

  • avatar

    Ha ha… ze Chermans schmaller are becoming.

  • avatar

    Paraphrasing the movie “Contact”, Why by a VW when you can have the same car (Audi) at twice the price?

    Maybe there’s a branding/image issue? I know Jetta still = hipster/cool but hipster != rich. Audi/Merc./BMW/Lexus/Cadi = image of rich (regardless of whether it was leased, financed, or paid for with loose change). I’m probably wrong b/c Honda and Toyota != cool but they still sell metric tons of their wares, but they own the “hey, we may not be cool but we’re the safe buy” market locked up.

    • 0 avatar

      The branding issue is that their product of 10 years ago was unreliable and poorly buil, and they haven’t publicly addressed it.

      The image is fine, except that I’m rich enough to afford and maintain a Toyota er a Lexus, but not rich enough to maintain a Volkswagen. Other than that, there’s nothing wrong with a fun little German car, imagewise. But, having been madly burned on maintenance costs on my 2001 Jetta, a Jetta looks foolish sitting next to a Corolla/Civic.

      Of course, marketing can only do so much. Marketing has got to be associated with a product that actually is as good as a Civic/Corolla in terms of the long-term ownership experience. Marketing in and of itself can’t fix that – the whole company has to move as one to accomplish that, which isn’t what I’ve seen from VW.

      I really WANT to me a VW fanboy. My dad owned busses and bugs when I was little, and I loved driving a European diesel. When I opened the hood, the phrase that jumped through my mind was “this isn’t your father’s Volkswagen”. Alas, it was about as reliable as my father’s Volkswagens, AND it was more expensive to fix. I liked the tight handling and compact zippyness of my Jetta, and I liked the interior a lot. I loved DRIVING it, but OWNING it was a mistake. Toyotas are far better to own over the long haul.

      VW would probably able to earn my business with a company wide strategy of making the ownership experience as good as Toyota. But, for that to happen, a munch of arrogant German business executives would have to admit mistakes, and present a plan to fix it. They’ll back out of the US market and blame the mechanics before that happens.

      P.S. One company which has done this successfully is Dominoes Pizza.

  • avatar

    …speculation: the gap between american privileged and working classes is widening, and as a result volkswagen is viewed less and less as an aspirational brand…

    …volkswagen ownership experiences tend to be polarised into two camps: those who own their cars for a relatively short duration before moving on to the next new thing, who tend to be quite satisfied with VW’s initial build quality, and those who keep their cars for a relatively long duration, who tend to be quite dissatisfied with VW’s long-term quality…in particular, volkwagen’s stint with poor long-term durability and high maintenance costs early in the last decade is just now saturating its reputation in the used market, which combines with poor word-of-mouth from previous working-class buyers to tarnish the aspirational lustre which drove the surge in VW sales in the late nineties and early aughts, when VW was perceived as an accessible entry into a market segment dominated by the likes of audi, BMW, and mercedes…simultaneously, those of the means to enjoy volkwagen’s much better-received short-term ownership experience now find the prime aspirational german marques more accessible than ever before, due to both higher incomes across the demographic and new affordable models being offered by luxury marques with a traditionally higher cost of entry…

    …now volkwagen is finding itself squeezed out of the market, its previous aspirational sales migrating away to higher-end luxury brands among privileged buyers and to higher-appointed reliable brands among working-class buyers…VW’s reputation in the US as a bargain junior-audi-porsche doesn’t carry the weight it once did, and the market is speaking…

    • 0 avatar

      Ah! Herb Caen’s three-dot journalism still lives! An English teacher would slap you silly. Still, good points, if you can read between the dots.

      • 0 avatar

        .I have been using the single dot myself since the 60s.

        .can’t remember why but I first started in college when taking notes in my own jibberish shorthand.

        .just used it to separate thoughts or as a point of emphasis.

        .I still use it till this day when writing “to do” lists, shopping lists etc. Separate line is not enough, I need the dot in front. Lol.

    • 0 avatar

      I figure that is happening, they want people to buy the Audi’s and Porsche’s as they make a lot more money on those
      As far as bread and butter vehicles, they need to get away from their fixation on sedans

  • avatar

    Great article. What is the explanation for VW’s failure to offer competitive crossovers? Meanwhile, the Passat and Jetta fail to offer good reasons for educated Americans (presumably VW’s target) to leave the Japanese/Korean brands.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      What can the Chattanooga CrossBlue do for you?

      • 0 avatar

        Nothing. They have missed the boat when it comes to crossover sales in the US. Too many Highlanders, Explorers, Pilots, and Lambdas have been sold already. Why would anyone that buys a midsized/large crossover change from the brand they bought to VW?

        The Tiguan, which is VWs only “affordable” crossover couldn’t even outsell the C-Max in September. The CX-5 moved about three times the units as the Tiguan.

  • avatar

    VW ratio of SUV to cars is what is keeping their numbers so low, at least here in America.

  • avatar

    My friend had a brand new loaded Passat 4Motion, in gleaming silver a few years back. A beautiful car. The red-backlit gauges made me feel like I was in the Batman Beyond-mobile……

    Then the idiot lights started blinking, the most glaring being the “Pull Over Now” light. So he traded it for an AWD Acura TL. Was he being a bit precipitous? Yeah, probably.

    But I know people who love VWs, but they’re terrified of what will happen once the warranty expires. This has been a concern since the 1990s. I’m sure the new Passat has greatly improved but no one will take that chance, esp. with available alternatives like Honda and Toyota and that gorgeous Fusion.

    Plus, VW’s product line (save for the Passat) is overpriced. You can land a Focus for $1000 less than a Golf, any day of the week. (Why is the Golf so expensive?? VW should fire-sale those things to grab market share.) The GTI now has some serious competition for less cash, including a Base Stang. The Beetle is a niche car, the Eos is just plain stupid, VW SUVs face too much competition.

    IMO, the only car keeping VW afloat is the Jetta. You can land the anemic base car for $14k.

    I read (perhaps it was on this site) that people buy a Passat looking for a cut-rate Audi. However, that market model is not sustainable. People do not buy an Accord looking for a cut-rate Acura.

    And here’s a thought: De-size and De-content the Beetle so it can compete with the Honda Fit. (The original Beetle was tiny, not nearly as big as the current version.) I would absolutely buy a smaller, cheaper Beetle. The college crowd would love it. Look to your history, VW !!!

    • 0 avatar

      They don’t even need to do that. They could import the Polo, or slap a VW badge on a Skoda or two and cover the lower end of the range quite nicely.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        +1 to that.
        Skoda Yeti for sale in North America, sooner rather than later.

        Our family had VW’s in the driveway for 12 years. Finally the dealer experience was just too much to put up with anymore. A condescending attitude, and criminal parts prices forced us to part ways.

        Now a member of the family has a base Jetta (manual, no optional power equipment). For the money it appears to be one heck of a deal. And the anemic base engine is livable with a manual. However I still wonder about it as a long term ownership proposition.

        And a close friend has over 350k on a diesel Passat. Nothing works anymore on it except the drivetrain and he is going to keep running it right until the end.

    • 0 avatar

      “De-size and De-content the Beetle so it can compete with the Honda Fit.”

      Like a purse competing with a backpack.

    • 0 avatar

      Sketch, there’s a real gem in what you said:
      “People do not buy an Accord looking for a cut-rate Acura”: So true!

      Now, knowing that the “Acura” is basically the European Honda shipped across the pond and given a butt-ugly beak and a healthy sticker price boost, I’m having some fun rephrasing your statement. Let’s try, “People do not buy an Accord looking for an overpriced, uglier, smaller Accord.” Now I think you’ve managed to explain both VW’s and Acura’s problems in one sentence! Keep up the good work – you made my morning.

      • 0 avatar

        It may be ‘true’ in a buyers sense, but it is incorrect. Most of Volkswagens cars since the beetle have technically been cut-rate Audis, while the European/Japanese Hondas are quite different from the American versions , and it still didn’t help because no one wants to drive a car with no soundproofing on the autobahn. If Honda really made a car that would sell in the European market, they would fix Acuras problem though.
        Worst thing to admit as an avid VW-disliker, is that the Mk7 Golf seems very well built and drives completely satisfactory, although I can’t guarantee for the reliability. (the rental Golf I was ‘forced’ to use was also a surprisingly unslow 1.2 bluemotion that got 50 mpg to boot)

    • 0 avatar

      I test drove the 6MT MK7 GTI at Jim Ellis VW to maybe replace my S4 in a year or too. I was very impressed with the quality of this generations design and interior materials. I didnt feel like there was as much head room as the MK6 which is good because it felt like I could wear a ten gallon hat while sitting in the seat. By far the MK7 is my favorite modern gti save mk4 if the interior would stay glued together.

      However while waiting at the dealer I had some seat time on the showroom and the jetta sucks and the passat sucks compared to in relative quality and build to the previous generations. I much prefered the old jetta’s interior and 2.5 5 cylinder base to the current 2.Slow. Also I noticed the hood struts are gone :(

      But it is alot car for a base jetta with a 16k sticker. #’Merica #SizeMatters

    • 0 avatar

      This is spot on. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool VW owner/fan, with a long and pain-wrought ownership history, but as hard as I try to give VW my business, the dealerships mess it up. My wife and I just bought a 2015 Fit. I keep thinking to myself, “It’s the best VW Polo Honda has ever made”. I’ve driven Polos/Fabias in Europe–many over the years–this “Honda Polo” is bang-on what VW should be offering in order to compete. Merits of the Fit aside (they’re bountiful), we really really wanted a Golf gasser. Night impossible to find anything but GTIs or TDIs in MK7s around here, and when you do find the unicorn middle trim level cars, they’re stickered at MSRP+$3K, and grey. Not interested in paying >$26K for a grey slushbox Golf with a sunroof. We test drove a couple, they’re fine cars, but nothing, and I mean nothing, was great enough to pull an extra $8K out of our wallets over what we got in the Fit. After getting the keys to the Fit, we’ve not looked back on not getting the Golf with regret even once.

      It’s really two things. Sell–as in actually offer on the floor–trim levels that people will pay less than top dollar for; and, have something that competes favorably in the B and CUV segments.

      And, yes, bring on the Yeti.

  • avatar

    Same here in the Netherlands. Lots of complaining particularly with regard to VW’s smaller turbo engines, stretched timing belts, that sort of things. Must be the “Made in Germany” label that still holds it for VW. Reputation goes a long way. Personally, this is my fourth Alfa Romeo I’m driving, a car brand people seem to like bashing because of its so-called unreliability… (pause)… You know what? ALL four Alfa’s turned out to be extremely reliable and enjoyable to drive and own.

    • 0 avatar

      For the most part, we only get the timing chain driven 4-cylinder engines from VW in the US. The most common VW engines here, the 1.8T and 2.0T, are both chain driven now. That hasn’t stopped chain tensioner failures though.

      I think the TDI engines still have the stretchy belts.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, still timing belts on the current TDIs. Although the interval is now 120000 miles instead of the original 60000 or the more recent 100000 interval. I don’t think I’d trust going over 100000 miles on the original belt but I’m sure others would have no problem with it.

        As for VW arrogance – The sales guy that we bought both VWs from in 2012 and 2013 has moved on to the Toyota dealership. I don’t know how the sales guys can feed their families with the anemic VW sales recently. The dealers need a range of product that is competitive and the product needs a competitive warranty (like Hyundai’s). Hearing about a Crossover in 2016 does nothing for them now.

        Also, out of 2 dealer service departments in Southern Maine, one of them sucks. And this is during VW’s “carefree maintenance” period where you think the dealers would try to screw up a lot less.

        The other dealer has been good so far. So obviously VW still isn’t big on making service at their dealers a great experience. I recently got a quote of $725 for the 40000 mile service on my Jetta wagon (includes DSG). I can buy the parts for about $200 to do the same thing in my garage. I don’t know what a 40000 mile service on something like a Corolla or Camry would be, but I can see why people that aren’t “experienced” with VWs don’t want to either buy or hold on to a VW.

        • 0 avatar

          The 40K mile service on my C-Max cost me $29.95 after $10 mail in rebate.

        • 0 avatar

          I believe service interval for vw belts is still 75k as of 2012. All the interference :P

          40k service is usually 450 for VW, but the check off list is very detailed for all service intervals especially major maintaince. However DSG fluid and filter are very expensive so additional 300 is not unreasonable (around 700 is what the independent Audi/Porsche shop I used to work at charged for 40k + DSG) but dont skip on it because the DSG is very sensitive and is designed for fresh fluid at 40k. Sorta sucks.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve heard from several people about the reliability of the Alfas. I was reading the user reviews on for 147 and 159 and was pleasantly surprised by the positiveness. Alfa is obviously on to something!

  • avatar

    VW went too far with the decontenting and destyling

    The Jetta and Passat are ugly and boring. Meanwhile, brands like Kia, Hyundai and Ford are building cars people actually want to look at and be seen in. VW used to make cars people wanted to look at and be seen in.

    The worst part of their decontenting is they didn’t have to make the cars so plain and ugly. Jetta looks like an OLD Corolla. Passat looks like an OLD Impala. Why did they do that?

    Most companies play with the low volume cars and don’t touch the breadwinners. VW does the opposite, and puts its money in to dead ends like the Phaeton instead of its lineup. I just don’t understand it

    • 0 avatar

      I think the current Mk.6 Jetta sedan—which is not impressive, in any guise—looks more like an evolution of the Mk.4 than an old Corolla. And ironically, most VW enthusiasts seem to think that the Mk.5 Jetta (the one that my ’14 SportWagen is a derivative of) is the most Corolla-like in terms of styling.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “VW went too far with the decontenting and destyling”

      I personally agree, but that doesn’t explain why the sales were so high in 2012. The decontented Jetta and Passat really were runaway sales successes compared to their predecessors. Whatever momentum they had is clearly losing steam though, and I don’t know why.

      FWIW, VW has continued updating these cars, with the 1.8 replacing the 5 cylinder and the Jetta getting some of the nice VW interior touches back. It’s obviously not enough and I’m guessing most consumers haven’t noticed.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s popular to bash Toyotas for being ugly. I don’t necessarily agree–I think they are more bland than ugly.

      But I find VWs to be worse than Toyotas. Maybe it’s being too conservative/plain. Maybe it’s being old/dated. I don’t know, but they are definitely unpleasant to look at.

      • 0 avatar

        I never had a problem with Toyota’s styling. I think some of their new designs (Avalon, Highlander, RAV4, Corolla) are quite good-looking, as are the cars that they replaced. Toyotas also tend to age well design-wise compared to cars that cost two and three times as much.

  • avatar

    And I say this as a VW customer *and* fan: are we really surprised?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Fact: VW’s US sales and market share are falling rapidly.

    VW’s perception: Americans are getting dumber, because they no longer understand the value of ‘German engineering’.

    Hint to VW: Arrogant people learn lessons the hard way.

  • avatar

    So, VW sells are continuing to tank in the US, but are up in Canada. I wonder if VW’s continued sales decline has anything to do with their horrible consumer website in the US?

    I tried using their site a couple times in July when shopping for a car… I got so fed up, I went and bought a Focus ST instead of a GTI or Turbo Beetle.

  • avatar

    In the US, the Jetta is VW’s bread-and-butter. It would appear that the Jetta may have entered its everyone-who-wanted-one-has-already-bought-one phase, which would explain the drop off in deliveries.

    On the whole, there are a lot of other alternatives that Americans find to be more compelling. VW has a hard time competing because being German or quirky aren’t strong selling points in the mainstream car market.

    The lack of a crossover probably doesn’t help, although one should wonder whether that would be enough.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “It would appear that the Jetta may have entered its everyone-who-wanted-one-has-already-bought-one phase”

      If I had to guess about the cause of the peak-in-2012-decline-by-2014 sales pattern, that would be it. I don’t think it’s their reliability history.

      I don’t think many consumers know or care about the new 1.8T powerplant in the Jetta. It’s wrapped in the same sheet metal as 2011.

      • 0 avatar

        Reliability is a factor overall, since that’s a bare minimum for many shopping lists. That reduces VW’s odds of ever hitting the big time in the US.

        But the interim sales decline is probably explained by the product cycle and the brand’s general invisibility. I doubt that most people even give VW a second thought in their car shopping.

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t imagine what they would offer that would be better or different in the midsize-large CUV segement.


    • 0 avatar

      My friends traded in their old Jetta for a ’13. They are NOT impressed with the new one and prefer their old one.

  • avatar

    My opinion? Poor suv choices. Tiguan should be good, but OLD design.

    Other problem already touched on… People would take the VW risk when the cars were something special feeling. They were nicer to be in, drove better, looked better than the “sensible” competition.

    Then they took out that special stuff in their biggest volume models, and sales drop. Why risk a VW when they look worse and feel the same as the safer choices?

    I loved my mkv GTI, but life circumstances caused me to sell it after 4 years with low miles, and really other than a couple tsb issues I knew about before I bought it, it was fine. And still the best all around car I’ve owned from a cost, efficiency, easy to park, and fun to drive perspective.

    But I’m an enthusiast. My aunt would never buy a VW over a Ford or Honda.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    It’s somewhat amusing when a global corporate giant just cannot figure out a target market. I wonder how many bottles of champagne were popped when the 2012 sales figures rolled in. Probably didn’t see 2014 coming.

    The Golf never has, never will, and never can be VWs sales savior here, so it is no surprise the redesign did nothing to the brand’s sales figures.

    Now is the time to go work a deal. Sportwagens and Jettas with the 1.8 are nice vehicles in a number of ways and it looks like the MSRP is now only a mere suggestion.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. VW sells about 40K Golf/GTI’s in the U.S. per year. Lets compare that to Europe. VW sells about 50K of them in France alone, a country roughly the size of Texas. In all VW sells about 500K of them in Europe combined. The last time I was at my local VW store, they were slapping $3K dealer mark up on the new GTI. VW dealers, in their arrogant wisdom, think because the new GTI is getting glowing remarks from the internet and car mags they can sustain their business this way. In reality, though, the only people stupid enough to pay their prices are their fanbois. Fanbois (with the exception of someone like Porsche or Ferrari) cannot keep a marque going.

  • avatar

    They made their cars boring and forgettable. They went after a cheaper market instead of sticking to their perceived increase in value over other brands. They used offer cars that were interesting and offered you a better driving experience than a Toyota or Ford. They just dropped the ball and targeted exactly the same market. (like the cheaper and more boring Jetta)

    Bring the German back. Attractive minimalistic cars that are fun to drive. There is a gap in the market for fun and practical cars with attractive minimalistic styling. Not boring cheap cars.

    BTW: I’ll take a Golf Sportwagen with the 2.0 Turbo please. Why hasn’t this happened yet?

  • avatar

    Nothing a new “Dial it up to 11.” warranty couldn’t fix. 11 years 110,000 miles. Put up or shut up. Money talks, bull$hit walks.

  • avatar

    My guess is that the slide started when they announced the A3 and Q3, as those who were aspirational but couldnt afford Audi all of the sudden just had to pony up a little bit more than for the Tig or Passat. And so first they waited and didnt buy VW, then they bought Audi. The reason this is happening in the US and not Canada is that this reflects the income distribution characteristics as well. The top is doing well, and wouldnt deign to drive VW. The bottom that would have aspired to VW and yearned for Audi just has no chance anymore as they fall further behind in living standards and now can’t really even afford VW, esp with the ridiculous maintenance costs. Now, yes, I know, that trend didnt just start, but another thing that DID just start is a lot of folks now paying for health insurance, and health care out of pocket that they didnt or coudlnt pay for before. Dont know how much that is affecting things, but it’s a part. The bigger part for sure is Audi cannibalizing VW. We also havent really looked at comparative financing trends, but the easy money is REALLY out there for the US brands and perhaps VW forgot to do their sign and drive. Also dont know the change in lease trend on VW and how that factored in. A dearth of new models for VW is certainly not helping. Lastly, the warranty period just plain sucks. 40k? Are you kidding me? Even if you give free maintenance through that, it’s incredibly painful for anything to go wrong after, which is like year 3-4.

  • avatar

    My theory is simply styling. I really dont understand the route they are taking, but for a few exceptions, most of their newer designs are extremely forgetable. I frequently see Jetta’s and Passats that look like rental strippers. I suppose you have to buy the top trims to get any sort of visual flare.

  • avatar

    They certainly follow the money. Around where I live, the new VW dealer is the size of a convenience store with corrugated metal walls, and the new Porsche dealer being built is the size of a Fry’s electronics (slight exaggeration, but still pretty big for a car dealer – like something that would be expected to sell Toyota or Ford) with 2 stories.

    • 0 avatar

      My local dealership (Cable Volkswagen) has two stories, but it’s been around for some time.

      • 0 avatar

        Good ole Cable in OKC. Last time I was there (4 weeks ago), I had to leave them $600 for a new high pressure fuel pump for my 2012 GTI. If I could have found said pump at NAPA, I would have done it myself and saved $360 in labor costs. I have VAGCOM and knew what the problem was, however, nobody sells V-dub parts any more except the V-dub store…

    • 0 avatar

      2013 vehicle sales: VW 4.7 million, Porsche 155,000
      2013 operating profit: VW 2.9 billion Euros, Porsche 2.6 billion Euros
      If you were running the business, where would you invest your money?

  • avatar

    I bought a new 1988 VW Fox GL and it was a minamalist hoot to drive! 4 speed manual for $7k. I just looked at their website and the prices are out of line with the product. There are better and more desirable cars for less cash so why would I by VW? They need to make a car that is the 21st centurt beetle in the way that it was a good reliable and inexpensive car. Oh yeah, Nissan makes the Versa….

  • avatar

    VW should have given Jetta a visual refresh this year to highlight the running chnages that have improved the model since its 2011 intro. They need to have more product in the pipleine. Certainly a new Tiguan is overdue and they have dithered way too long putting the crossover into production.

    Are US VW dealers much worse than Canadian ones, ’cause I’ve had no complaints about mine. Maybe a little pricey but not bad. I expect higher Canadian gas prices make VW and its diesels in particular more popular here. I notice many of the Chevron station have added diesel pumps in the last two years to accommodate growing demand.

  • avatar

    I am going to have to get a new tag name.

    Then again, I haven’t owned a VW in more than a decade. Fahr-Out-Vergnugen? Far-Out-Ted-Nugent?

    It just doesn’t matter.

  • avatar

    1. Poor reliability and durability past the warranty period
    2. US dealer service is worse than going to the dentist.

    I had a 2001 Passat that cost me and my parents over $10k in maintenance and repairs over 11 years (and mostly at independent mechanics). Nice car when new. A nightmare after the honeymoon phase, and leaking every fluid known to man was just the beginning.

    VW needs more reliable powertrains in their US cars, and they also need to stop mounting things with plastic brackets that simply fall off from age/heat-cycle brittleness. Then they need to make their dealers stop treating customers as servants.

    Otherwise their sales will continue to shrink, all the way down to their core customer base of yuppie neighbours who want something discreet for their high school and college kids.

  • avatar

    I very much enjoy that VW is having poor sales, as I feel it’s well deserved. They bring watered down product to the US and expect everyone to rave like it’s 84 and they just saw the GTI again.

    Get over yourselves and improve your product.

  • avatar

    The only VW I really like (or like to look at, more accurately) is the Passat CC. Someone way down the street has (a very newish) one and when it drives by our house, it catches my eye every time. Looks very premium. Also looks impractical with the slit windows and tiny rear end, but boring? No. Pretty? Yes!

    I think the (regular) Passat looks good in a sensible, Brooks Brothers sort of way, as long as it’s an up-lux version with big wheels (SEL?). The rest of VW’s lineup is just there to me.

    Now Audi? Jeezus, I think they are beautiful cars. I love love love the straight-edged, taut lines of current Audis. That (Concept) TT 4-door is just stunning. But would I buy/live with one? Sadly, no.

    Why? Let’s just say that my in-laws have been European car owners since forever. Right now my MIL drives a Jaguar (a 3 year old XF). It is no stranger to the dealership in Sarasota. Previous Jag was an S-Type. Case closed.

    VW’s problems in my eyes:

    – Is it just me or is it bizarre that as soon as the US consumer can buy the new Gen XX Golf, the next version Golf Gen YY is shortly introduced at a German auto show the same year? The US seems to always be driving the leftovers. In this age of the internet, it’s gotta be bad for business when your customers decide to wait a couple more years for the much nicer version now on sale in Europe.

    – Overpriced for what you get.

    – Reliability is a huge factor, legacy or not. Everyone knows not to own a VW past the warranty. Nobody says that about a Toyota, Honda, Lexus, Infiniti, Acura, and maybe soon Hyundai.

    – Styling. Amp it up! Need more Audi lines! Need more cowbell!

    – Need approachable, practical, and quality SUV/CUVs that are affordable… STAT!

    Otherwise, VW is doin’ just fine, thank-you very much! :p

    • 0 avatar

      My neighbor had a CC and I liked it. He traded it in for a Regal 2.0T manual that he says is a way better car. Both are somewhat impractical sedans, and even if I think the CC looks better, I’d probably have the Regal too.

  • avatar

    I think it is a combination of all the factors above. Marketing, poor past reputation, spotty dealer experience, overpriced, uninspired styling etc. However I believe the lack of any representation in the hottest market segments (CUV, SUV, truck) is always going to assign them to an also ran.

  • avatar

    I would have to think the main problem with selling cars in the USA is you have to put a lot of Money on the hood. VW will give a small discount but not as much as the Toyota & Honda dealers. Honda used to play it close to the vest but today they will play hard and fast. A lot of the dealers today also play the sub prime game. My son in laws ex partner from NYPD days is now working in a VW dealer on Long Island and they will not deal with any sub prime buyers. In my area Toyota is giving up to $3,000.00 rebate on some of their models. I know of one person who purchased a new Toyota with a 72 month loan at over 26%. Its a tough business. I used to work with a lot of ocean carriers and over the years they laid off many of their sales personal.One laid off salesman took a job with a large Nissan dealer in Brooklyn for a year. He had to quit because everyday coming to work he would stand across the street from the show room to see if any of the people he sold cars to were in the showroom. He claimed he screwed so many buyers with leases and loans they would be looking for him. He always claimed the buyer only wanted to know how much a month for how long and not to bother him with the small figures.

  • avatar

    What kind of company takes a product with a reputation built on german quality, reduces that quality and then advertises this cheapening to the target audience. And their product rolls outs and communications are atrocious riddled with disinformation and errors, it’s no wonder people are sick of vw’s shit. I was holding out for a golf r but said screw it and got a gla45 instead, money be damned.

  • avatar
    George B

    The main factor I’ve noticed in Volkswagen’s sales drop is that their core Jetta and Passat models look the same as the ones that were selling well two years ago. Volkswagen needs to make some exterior cosmetic changes to show buyers that the models have been “refreshed”. Could be as simple as new wheels and a new grill to go with the change from the 2.5 L 5 to the 1.8 L turbo 4.

    As others have commented, Volkswagen is missing out in the rapid growth of the CUV market.

  • avatar

    I bought a new Rabbit/Golf for my daughter in 08 for 17K. It now has 101,000 miles and has never been back to the dealer.

    I bought a new Sportwagon tdi in 12 for myself for 26K. It has 36,000 miles and has been back to the dealer only for the free service every 10K.

    I realize its popular here at TTAC to bash VW at every opportunity but I have nothing to complain about

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