How Many Golf R Wagons Could Volkswagen USA Sell?

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

The R version of Volkswagen’s Golf isn’t the kind of car Volkswagen intends to sell in large numbers. The most recent iteration found 3894 U.S. owners in 2012, equal to 19.3% of the 20,208 fast Golf buyers, if “fast Golf” means GTI and R.

In 2013, as the Golf R’s availability inventory dried up, the Golf R attracted 1598 U.S. buyers, or 10.7% of the GTI/R total.

In the meantime, Volkswagen sold 23,946 Jetta SportWagens in 2012 and another 22,534 in 2013, years in which, respectively, VW USA sold 40,885 and 30,931 total Golfs. The Jetta SportWagen, you may recall, was and is a Golf wagon underneath. It has even been marketed in Canada that way. But, thought VW USA, the greater popularity of the Jetta nameplate in the United States meant marketing the car under that banner was more lucrative.

As VeeDub fans the world over have already noted, Volkswagen is showcasing the Golf R Wagon at the auto show in Los Angeles this week. It is the dream car for automotive writers: a relatively affordable and rather quick all-wheel-drive German wagon. It’s blue, yes, but they could paint it a lovely shade of brown, right?

Let’s say, for the sake of your dreams tonight, that this car actually ends up in America as a production car marketed and stocked by Volkswagen dealers. How many could we reasonably expect to see?

We’ll use 2012 as our representative year. Volkswagen sold 64,831 Golf-family vehicles, Jetta SportWagen included. Of those, 37% were wagons and 6% were Golf R hatchbacks. 9.5% of the Golf hatchbacks sold were Golf Rs.

Now we have to make assumptions, and the first will be that there are fewer Golf wagon buyers than Golf hatchback buyers who would be willing to upgrade to the R model. But we won’t drive the number down too far, as a high percentage of the wagon buyers which still exist in the U.S. are willing to shell out on higher-priced machines. (It’s not like there are a bevy of affordable true wagon options.)

Over the last three months, with the new Mk7 Golf activated, Volkswagen USA has averaged 3787 total Golf hatchback sales per month. We’ll add the average for the Jetta SportWagen from the same period last year – 2059/month, when it wasn’t at the end of its tenure – to that total for projected monthly output of 5846 units.

This assumes that Volkswagen’s previously held belief that the wagon would do better under the Jetta banner than the Golf’s won’t hold true. We’ll adjust for seasonal differences and call it 65,000 Golf sales per year, with the wagon generating 35% of that total (22,750) and the Golf R accounting for 7.5% of the wagon’s total, down from the 9.5% achieved by the Golf R hatch in 2012.

Our end tally: 1706 Golf R Wagon sales per year in the United States.

It’s a guess, an educated guess perhaps, but not a prophecy that I’ll firmly stand by. History has been our only guide. It’s certainly not a forecast since, after all, Volkswagen will use their discretion to decide how many, if any, Golf Rs can be sold as wagons in wagon-averse America. But a second-generation Tiguan with 296 horsepower? Yeah, they could probably do just fine with one of those.

For the record, 1700 annual U.S. sales is equal to approximately 0.5% of Volkswagen’s anticipated 2014 volume; and about the level of sales achieved in the last ten months by cars like the BMW Z4, Mini Paceman, and Volvo S80.

And what are its chances for landing stateside? Automotive News quoted a VW spokesman who said Volkswagen has no plans to sell the wagon variant in the U.S. Volkswagen’s own press release on the matter clearly spells out: “Car goes on sale in Europe in Spring of 2015.” Thus, the car’s production debut in Los Angeles may just be a strange form of teasing. Automakers, provoke not your prospective buyers to resentment.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

Timothy Cain
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  • Superdessucke Superdessucke on Nov 19, 2014

    I think your estimate is about right. 1,500-2,000 units. But, why don't they do a Jetta wagon with plastic body cladding, the Haldex AWD system, and raised ride height? If they could price it $10k below the Audi allroad they could add a 0 to those sales numbers.

    • Xflowgolf Xflowgolf on Nov 19, 2014

      This is highly probable to be already in the works. If VWVortex is to believed (the actual site.. not random commenters), they posted as of today (11/19): "VW Executives confirm Golf Sportwagen 4Motion and Alltrack versions will be in US market by 2016" Take that for what it's worth.

  • Superdessucke Superdessucke on Nov 19, 2014

    I'm truthfully surprised they didn't do this years ago. Now, it would be too small for most Americans but it'll move a lot more units than an R wagon would. Now There's a good question. How many Jetta Alltracks would VW sell? I guess we could start with the Audi Allroad and probably add, what, 50%? Assuming they could get it into a low enough price bracket so it's not competing with the Allroad.

  • Bd2 Tesla is the most important company in the world, responsible for mass enlightenment and empowerment of the educated affluent masses. This lawsuit will only impede the progress of the human race.
  • Aja8888 Good! Hope the owners' win the case, but it will probably be a long time before Tesla releases repair particulars to 3rd party shops. There is a Tesla service center near me I see every day that is absolutely loaded with service-waiting vehicles (parked for weeks) and I'm sure those owners are not thrilled.
  • SCE to AUX I've seen several Fisker Oceans, but not a single 400 Z.
  • Luke42 With Elon Musk just randomly firing the Supercharger team, Tesla has demonstrated that it isn’t a reliable business partner over the long-term.Being able to get 3rd-party repairs just got a lot more important. I’ve also been upping my Tesla-DIY game.That said, I just put 5000 miles on my Model Y in a month (family-obligations) using the Supercharger Network, and my EV is an incredibly capable vehicle when viewed through an engineering lens. As a car guy, driving my EV through the Appalachian mountains where I learned to drive was truly an experience of holding a tiger by the tail and guiding it where I want to go. But, when looking at my Tesla with Elon in charge of sales & service, I do have some serious concerns about the long-term stability of Tesla as a business.My current plan is to trade my Model Y and my GMC Sierra in on a Silverado EV or GMC Sierra EV once the price/availability/finance picture looks favorable. Elon’s unhinged behavior and the Toyota/Honda’s refusal to innovate are making GM look like a good long-term bet to me.I’ll put up with all of this in order to continue driving an EV, though. Even the best gasoline and diesel vehicles are buzzy buckets of bolts compared to me EV, so I’m not going back to a 20th century vehicle.
  • FreedMike Well, this ended up pretty much as I figured it would. I wouldn't think anyone's panties could get in a bunch about a holiday celebrating the end of slavery, but apparently I was wrong.
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