Jetta Volume Plunges In January, Volkswagen's Modest Improvement Continues
Volkswagen USA reported a 59-month low in Jetta sales in January 2015, just the second four-digit Jetta sales month in the last four and a half years, and a narrow ten-unit year-over-year overall brand improvement.
The Volkswagen brand sold 23,494 vehicles in January 2014, down 19% compared with January 2013’s output.
January 2015 sales were up 0.04% compared with January 2014 – which was the tenth of 18 consecutive year-over-year monthly U.S. sales declines – but, rather obviously, were down 19% compared with January 2013 levels.
January is not typically a sterling month for the Jetta, nor for most any vehicle competing in the U.S. marketplace. January accounts for more than 8% of the calendar but little more than 6% of the new vehicles sold in America.
In the four Januarys leading up to last month, the Jetta lineup averaged 10,678 U.S. sales. January 2015 sales were down 16% from that average.
Fortunately, on a year-over-year basis, the Golf family produced a 145% increase, equal to 2487 extra sales. Passat sales ticked up slightly, rising 1% to 6305 units.
But every other Volkswagen stumbled. Beetle volume slid 32%. Sales of the CC were down 40%. The nearly departed Eos was off the pace by 15%. The Routan disappeared. Tiguan sales fell 17%. Touareg volume was down 11%. Subtract the Golf from the equation and Volkswagen sales in America were down 11% in January 2015.
As for the Jetta itself, much of its decline can be blamed on the Jetta SportWagen’s forthcoming demise. (The next wagon will be a Golf.) SportWagen volume plunged 51% to just 649 units. Jetta sedan sales slid just 2%.
Yet viewed in the context of potential rivals, the Jetta’s numbers, at 8320 sedan-only units, are disturbingly low for a brand’s best seller, particularly when we realize that America’s car market expanded by more than 8% in January, especially when the brand has such lofty expectations.
Toyota Corolla sales jumped 20% to 27,357 units, outselling the Jetta sedan by more than three to one. The Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze, and Ford Focus all sold more than twice as often as the top VW. (The Nissan Sentra, Hyundai Elantra, and Nissan Versa were the other more popular small cars in January.)VolkswagenJanuary2015January2014% ChangeJetta 8,9699,768-8.2%Passat 6,3056,2361.1%Golf 4,1991,712145%Tiguan 1,4731,777-17.1%Beetle 1,3892,034-31.7%CC 531881-39.7%Touareg 482544-11.4%Eos 156183-14.8%Routan —359-100%————Total23,50423,4940.04%
Of course, the A6 Jetta is an aging car. Unfortunately, Volkswagen can’t rely on its newer model for significant U.S. volume, since the Golf is simply not capable of attracting a wide audience in America. The Golf family was outsold by the Camaro, Avalon, Challenger, Accent, and E-Class in January, and more than half the car’s sales were produced by the GTI and e-Golf. In other words, the mainstream Golf is rarely seen on Main Street.
It’s increasingly obvious that Volkswagen needs a CrossBlue-like family crossover to compete in America. But as we’ve mentioned before, even with such a model adding around 10,000 monthly sales – a positive forecast, indeed – Volkswagen would have only sold 33,500 vehicles in January. Or about 7300 fewer new vehicles than Subaru sold last month.
An affordably high-riding family vehicle is required, but it’s not the complete answer, not for the American marketplace.
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.
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too funny... Avis tried to 'upgrade' me tonight with a brand new Jetta, after reading this piece I was really excited to see what it was like for myself. Unfortunately, as I got ready to pull away, I noticed the cigarette lighter wasn't giving my GPS or cell charger any power, it was totally dead (cue sad trombone music..) So I had to dump it for a Soul. The more things change....
Case in point for the poor Jetta: We have two VWs in our garage. But when it came time to get my mom a new car to replace her busted Chevy Cavalier last November, Corolla it was. It was basically fait accompli. Despite knowing next to nothing about cars, she knows that Toyotas are easy to drive and reliable. And that's about all she needed to know. A Jetta was out of the question. She was fixated on the Toyota brand and I had limited time and interest in dissuading her. The Jetta is basically an obscure, unknown car to someone like her. (She crossed off the Civic due to the "weird" windshield design.) We did try a Mazda3, which I thought had some more familiarity. It was, in my view, a much nicer car---better interior, more features, looks good. With the Mazda I tried to point out the superior materials and design in the Mazda interior (in comparison to the nasty fake-stitched scrap cloth on the Corolla door panels). No dice. Corolla has the reputation. She loves the car, even though the voice-recognition for the phone "doesn't understand" her.