By on February 6, 2015

2015 Volkswagen JettaVolkswagen 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.

VW Jetta Golf Passat sales chartFortunately, 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.)

% Change
 8,969 9,768 -8.2%
 6,305 6,236 1.1%
 4,199 1,712 145%
 1,473 1,777 -17.1%
 1,389 2,034 -31.7%
 531 881 -39.7%
 482 544 -11.4%
 156 183 -14.8%
 — 359 -100%
23,504 23,494 0.04%

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, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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97 Comments on “Jetta Volume Plunges In January, Volkswagen’s Modest Improvement Continues...”

  • avatar

    The craziness in Diesel fuel pricing in the US is killing TDI sales. When Diesel sells for $3.29 and regular unleaded is $1.89, what’s the point?

  • avatar

    I’d be curious to see how Jetta sales compare to Mazda 3 sales this year. A lot of the folks I see in Mazda 3s look like the kinds of people who would buy Jettas. 3s are much of what the Jetta used to be without all of VW’s problems. If I don’t fall victim to the boost bug I definitely want one next go round. I’m hoping the MS3 is coming.

    • 0 avatar

      Jetta still beat the Mazda3 this month by about 1,000 units; the Jetta was down 9% while the Mazda3 was up 26% over January 2014.

    • 0 avatar


      my brother recently replaced his 2000 passat with a 2011 mazda3.

      he loves it.

      i bought a 2002 protege5 new and my second (distant) choice at the time was a jetta.

      never thought they would be competing brands but you may be on to something.

  • avatar

    I’d say Golf sales cannibalized Jetta sales. When I was shopping for a car in late ’13, I wanted a Golf TDI, but there were just none available. I looked at the Jetta, but ended up with a Passat; much nicer car for very little more $ (with the end of year incentives) and no mileage penalty.

    Now that the car of the year is available and selling well, many of those sales are coming from the Jetta line. It could use a refresh.

    Obviously, something more compelling that than the Tiguan needs to be introduced for VW to continue to grow in the US.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not an encouraging sign that the Tiguan’s (and Touareg’s) sales declined in a market that is overall growing, especially with crossovers. Even GM’s Lamda crossovers which are at the end of their model cycle managed to increase sales.

      Even more, if VW wants to hit 800K sales, then they are going to have to start selling more Jettas and Passats. If GM can turnaround its compact sedan sales (the Cruze sells pretty well), then VW should be able to as well.

    • 0 avatar

      The Jetta did get a refresh, for MY2015. The prices got hiked right back up, too…

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

    • 0 avatar

      Ok, I would have done a whole different take on this story. Instead of “Jetta sales plunge”, um, what 800 units, how about “Golf sales soar”, like, up 2,500 units. That’s the real story here. The new Golf is getting back to VW’s roots to offer premium German engineering at affordable prices. Bargain BMW’s if you will. The Golf is getting universal accolades and is a sharp looking car to boot. Once the new Golf Sportwagen is added, and the regular Golfs and GTI’s continue to pick up steam, I predict the entire Golf lineup will soon be VW’s best seller. The local dealership near me can’t seem to keep them in stock.

  • avatar

    The difficult issue for VW is how to fix American sales without hurting worldwide sales. It’s a similar problem for Honda and Toyota that do great here but not so hot in Europe. Of course some incentives can’t hurt either.

    • 0 avatar

      It seems like MQB should be able to solve the problem while maintaining the economies of scale.

      I think the real problem is that the leadership of the company is not prepared to take feedback from American customers seriously.

      As a former VW owner, I like how VWs look and how they drive. I don’t like how they break and how difficult they are to fix (compared to my Fords and Toyotas). I refuse to own another one until they make reliability and serviceability a priority.

    • 0 avatar

      Americans have discovered the abysmal reliability and cost of ownership. I fail to see how reliability is going to hold them back in the global market.

      Europeans and Chinese love spending money on maintenance?

      VW ran aground in the US specifically because they abandoned their global strategy, and they tried to convert VW into a quasi-luxury vehicle for FWD-lovers.

  • avatar

    For as much hate as the Corolla gets, the new Corolla is a pretty nice car aside from the old school 4 speed automatic. But people buying Corollas probably don’t care too much about the number of gears in their transmission as long as they can text and drink coffee while using one foot and one arm to make the car stop and go.

    The 2015 Jetta refresh does look a little nicer, but VW has really confused a lot of people by no longer offering a “build your own” option on their site. They’ve also decontented them further, where they have at least removed the body coloured mirrors with side turn signals from a lot of the trim levels. The lack of a build tool on their site is ridiculous and would definitely turn me off if I was casually cross-shopping with the Jetta.

    Regarding the Mazda sales – The sales guy that sold us a 2012 Sportwagen and a 2014 Jetta sedan is now working at a Toyota/Scion dealership. He previously worked at a VW/Mazda dealer. So that said to me that he was probably not doing well trying to sell VWs and Mazdas. He was there at least 2.5 years before he moved on.

    VW and Mazda are interesting cars, but as Subaru discovered, interesting doesn’t sell well. Mass-market me-too cars do sell pretty well though, especially with AWD thrown in for the idiots that think it’ll save them from an accident in the winter. It’ll be fun to watch the new Golf wagon to see how they position it and price it, and whether or not they actually offer an AWD variant.

    • 0 avatar

      I really don’t see the problem with the 4 speed, it’s efficient enough, reliable, cheap, is being outdated really the only excuse for mentioning it? It’s safe to assume consumers prefer the better feel over the competitors CVTs and constantly hunting 6 speed. An engine that small is overwhelmed by 6+ gears.
      Why must all new technology be assumed better, it’s simply not always the case.

      Obviously it sometimes is better, but here is a great example showing otherwise.

      • 0 avatar

        My problem with the new Corolla isn’t the 4-speed – its the principle that it gets away with a 4-speed when GM caught so much grief for 4-speed back in 2004. Also, the Corolla itself is just such a terrible car for anyone except a 9-5 office drone.

        • 0 avatar

          That’s my point, why do so many people give grief to good technology, a 2% increase in efficiency doesn’t consitute a reasonable explanation to a $1k increase in price, to me. GMs 4 speeds are for the most part durable in all applications, and they drive really well. If I had bought the Ram express I would have opted for the 6 speed over the 8 speed after what I read in some forums.

          Yes the Corolla is miserable, fortunately it didnt have a CVT in the ones I’ve driven.

        • 0 avatar


          If you’re not the 800lb gorilla in your class, buyers expect all kinds of parlor tricks to attract their dollars.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s only so much room in the “mass market me too” segment though. Civic and Corolla have retained market capture for decades. Nobody is eating into that. Then the next tier down, Focus makes a pretty compelling case and aside from the DCT is a better value than the Civrolla. Mazda 3 and Golf are counted in this segment but not really in it. Most of the other stuff sells on features (Impreza) or price/credit availability (Dart, Cruze, Sentra, Lancer etc). Its a wonder the Jetta gained so much ground as they didn’t really have an in.

      Next go round I think they will be fine IF they make the Jetta look good. This straight line restrained BS VW is doing is no bueno. It was OK when cars were ugly blobs of soap, but now a lot of cars look really good. VW needs stylish mainstreamers

    • 0 avatar

      You’re right. The pre-refresh Jetta S lacked color-keyed mirrors and turn indicators, but now that has spilled over to the base Jetta SE (w/o Connectivity package). One thing they did add, which makes me happy, is the full-length screen in the instrument cluster, although it’s the watered-down fixed-pixel “Mid-line” version that’s in the Passat Wolfsburg Edition. Previously, you could only get the “High-line” cluster in the Hybrid or the GLI, but I think the SEL now includes it. And it has the nicer steering wheel from the Mk.7 Golf.

    • 0 avatar

      I worked as a salesman for VW, Audi, and Porsche in the summer of ’93 while I was 19. We were just standing around waiting for anybody to walk onto the lot. Meanwhile, we’d drive by the Toyonda dealers and see them crawling with people. After introducing ourselves to the salesman there, they pretty much said all they do is process orders because people that show up have already made their decision.
      I think for people in the real world that just need transportation, the Corolla has become ubiquitous with “not going to give me pain and suffering” or “not going into the shop for anything other than routine maintenance–EVER”.
      I don’t see anything wrong with the Corolla. It’s only a tire/suspension upgrade away from being a semi-fun bulletproof commuter.

    • 0 avatar

      Only the cheapest “L” model has the 4-speed as an option (along with the 6-speed manual), the other three model packages has only the CVT as an option for the automatic.

    • 0 avatar

      The inability to Build Your Own Volkswagen is just dumb, dumb, dumb… Whoever made that decision deserves to be taken to the woodshed.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Having driven the vw Jetta from the rental pool, it is not hard to figure out why the car does not sell. Their is zero value proposition for this car. Side by side, I would argue the W body Impala (rental rocket version) is a better car by a wide margin when one factors things like reliability and what not into the equation.

    I have not been in a 2015 yet so I can speak to he updates, but they would have to be immense for this thing to sell. They need to scrap the whole thing and start over. Similar to what chevy did with the impala but that creates price point issues very quickly.

    • 0 avatar

      People don’t cross shop a Jetta (compact/mid-size) to an Impala (full-size). So no doubt the Impala is a better car but it probably costs a whole lot more. Apples and oranges.

      • 0 avatar

        On the used market, there is a suprising amount of parity between a ’14 Jetta SE Convenience/Connectivity and a ’14 Impala Limited LT w/mileage in the teens.

        Though on average, you’re looking at two vastly different markets – the younger, predominately white/latina female middle/upper-middle class first-time buyer demographic versus the older (29-49) more urban predominately black credit-rebuilding Drivetime/CARMAX/CAC buyer demographic.

        Just saying from experience/observation.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve got to disagree. I got to put ~900 miles on a Jetta in 2 days (round-trip rental) with the new 1.8T engine and DSG and a thoroughly enjoyed it.

      The car seems thoroughly “American”: Huge trunk, roomy, great ride, and they fixed tha handling with the IRS and the mileage with the 1.8T. I got 39mpg (all highway, obviously).

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve rented the old 2.0L decontented Jetta, and it was among the worst rentals I’ve ever had. A recent rental in a 1.8T model was a big improvement, but the interior still looked cheap to me and the styling did nothing for me. Nothing about the car, except the fuel economy, really stood out. Nothing offensive, nothing memorable. My experience with a rental Passat was much better, however.

        On the subject of Impalas, the olds ones were nice by rental car standards. The Eoctec 4 cylinder that is in them now seems to have sapped any performance pretensions that the car had, but has not boosted the fuel economy, in my driving experience.

        • 0 avatar

          The 2.5 Jetta (with its hydraulic steering) and the 2.5 Beetle are two of my favorite rentals. I had one Bug that I put nearly a thousand miles on, and I didn’t want to give it back. If it had a moonroof and a stick, I may not have returned it.

          I also drove a 2.5 Passat from Reno to San Francisco, and enjoyed it very much. It’s a large car that handles and steers well. I’ve grown to enjoy the sound of the 5 cylinder (which has a reputation for reliability). And I like the restrained looks.

          So I was really looking forward to having a Jetta with the 1.8. I had one in Minneapolis for two days and came away unimpressed. The power was nice, but the steering was a step in the wrong direction. With the move to electric steering, it felt numb and heavy.

          Given the reports of VW turbo issues, I would be more inclined to score a deal on a used 2.5 Jetta or Passat.

  • avatar

    Morgan brings up a good point: “when one factors things like reliability”. I’m pretty sure VW has addressed the bulk of their reliability issues, but the perception remains and will remain for years to come. It doesn’t help sales, in fact, the reliability question was my only hesitation in purchasing the Passat.

    So far (35k miles) so good.

    • 0 avatar

      IF they have addressed their reliability issues, they could tell us what they did to make it happen.

      Until they do that, I’m going to consider buying another VW to be roughly on par Russian Roulette.

      I really WANT to me a VW fanboy. But, I’ve owned one.

  • avatar

    Every time a VW article is posted with a picture of one of these cars, I have to check the date and make sure I’m not reading an article from 2006.
    Seriously VW the design was old when it was introduced, and even if introduced in a more appropriate time (90s) it still doesn’t change the fact it ages(d) terribly.

    The paint doesn’t even look right in that picture, looks like an average silver colored car t-bone repaint.

    • 0 avatar

      The light and shadows are playing tricks on that photography. Believe me. I have a Chrysler 300 on the lot right now that had a book written about it – Fifty Shades of Gray.

      • 0 avatar

        I was looking at one of the new Ram 2500s, it was beautiful in silver, I hate to admit, because I dislike the color on cars. But knowing how bad it would look if wrecked and repainted, or having to park it in a sea of silver everytime I go somewhere, really just turns me off.

  • avatar
    John R

    Lingering perceptions regarding reliability aside, I wonder if the branding problems VW has over here is merely the inverse that the Japanese have in Europe.

    When it comes to premium/luxury (and to a certain degree bread & butter options) The Europeans seldom consider the Japanese, if at all. Ask Lexus and Infiniti. Conversely, in the States, when it comes to the bread and butter (Civic and etc) VW simply isn’t on the radar.

    Over here, the mode seems to be, “If you’re just looking to get from point a to point b for 150,000 years, get a Honda or Toyota. Want something nicer? Get a Lexus. Want to show off and can afford to maintain it? Buy an Audi or BMW.” Of course I’m including Detriot brands repectively in my analogy, BTW.

    So, if that is true, then a non-premium European brand may fall between two stools in the US, Volvo and Saab for example. Why pay for the headache of “German” relaibilty and maintenance if you don’t get that BMW badge on your keychain?

  • avatar

    The Golf is such a better car that the Jetta, if VW were to offer lease numbers on the Golf that were anywhere near what they’re offering on the Jetta, they would move all the Golfs they could build. I thought that was the point of moving production to Mexico; make production less expensive so they could ramp up production.

  • avatar

    The 2015 refresh wasn’t enough to help the Jetta. VW needs a stepped up program of new nodel rollouts in North America.

    It’s crazy that the extremely capable Golf is outsold by the Camaro in the USA. Here in Canada I can go a month without seeing a new Camaro, but MkVII Golfs are already everywhere.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t exactly understand what it means when we say “an extremely capable xxVWxx”. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that on commercials, what is it capable of exactly that all other vehicles are incapable of? I feel this is kind of VW shrugging off the reliability problem, perhaps ones way of damning it with faint praise?

      “Trust me guys it’s extremely capable of making it to the store!”

      • 0 avatar

        Never been much of a VW fan, but yes the new cars are extremely capable. Comparing Golf with Camaro like the original statement did isn’t entirely adequate, but yes a Golf G7 is a better all around car than a Camaro, not even to say a Focus (of which I am a fan of, but the Golf is bettwe, to me anyways and for the first time in Golf x Focus history).

        Then again to compare a Golf to a Camaro isn’t exactly accurate. But as na all together car? Yes Golf.

  • avatar
    Mike N.

    When is the MQB Jetta coming out? I know the current one has only been around since 2010 but it already seems so dated.

  • avatar

    Buying a new VW is a rite of passage for a shrinking demographic; fully employed, freshly college-graduated young women. Most learn better by the time they need their second or third new car, so it is important for there to be a constant stream of new yuppies. Instead, all we have are new ways of hiding the true unemployment numbers.

  • avatar

    What does the typical Jetta buyer look like? Most I’ve seen are women in their 20’s or 30’s. These were the kinds of people who’d typically gravitate toward Jettas, but cars like the Fiat 500 and Nissan Rouge are what women seem to be buying now.

    Few people looking for a well-rounded compact for their daily grind will likely consider a Jetta because there’s no reason to. They’re less reliable than the Japanese and American compacts and there’s just too many other fashionable choices out there now for those who want style. And personally, if I wanted a cheap euro car to zip around in, I’d be willing to spend just a little bit more and move up to a CPO Bimmer. They’d both cost about the same to maintain anyway.

    I doubt most Corolla buyers would cross-shop VW. Corolla buyers want diehard reliability while Jetta buyers wanted a BMW for the price of a Corolla. Selling to people with caviar tastes on a hotdog budget worked for them.

    Unlike the last Jetta, which sold on style and (perceived) performance, VW tried to produce this car to compete with stuff like the Corolla and Cruze, and did so at the expense of content and material quality. The Jetta now tries to appeal to a demographic that was never interested in it in the first place.

  • avatar

    Also, VW doesn’t have much on the radar coming out for the next few years either. This is going to be it for awhile.

    If VW wants big boy sales, then it needs to be a full-line manufacturer. Full stop. Bring over the Polo and Up; that’s two segments that they have solid products for and just don’t bother to offer. Sure they wouldn’t add too much volume, but at least 50K units a year.

    Restyle the Sharan van and sell it as the New Bus. Gimmicky but thats another 50K sales easy.

    They also need to offer 3 crossovers in addition to the Touareg, and probably a mid-size truck wouldn’t hurt either.

    I just don’t understand why they pass on offering these vehicles in the US when: 1) they have already done the R&D so that is a sunk cost and 2) they can build it in Mexico and not be penalized with high-wage German labor.

    They only reason is that they weren’t designed for US safety standards and thats just poor planning.

    Meanwhile, Audi and Porsche, with huge sales increased, will become the most important brands in North America for VW group.

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you! I’ve always thought the “not designed to US safety standards” was a sad excuse for poor product planning.

      Up! – 500 Competitor
      Polo – Fiesta, Fit
      CrossPolo – XV Crosstrek
      Amarok – Tacoma, Ridgeline
      Caddy van – Transit Connect, Ram Fiat Doblo

      Euro/Global Passat would demolish the midsize market if they pulled a ’93 Camry and offered a car above and beyond midsize standards. But even if they’re content with the “good enough” current Passat, the Global Passat would be an excellent CC replacement and truly strike fear into the Lexus ES, Acura TLX.

      It’s a much better proposition than a Phaeton.

      Without a press-release handy, the ’15 Jetta looks exactly the same as the dated-for-2010 Jetta. The Tiguan and Touareg have been well overdue for redesigns for some time now. If they were heavily updated I don’t think their crossover situation would be nearly as dire as it is. VW thinks slight refreshes and lame styling will pave the way to victory and thankfully their sales reflect that it wont.

      Mazda is doing the mainstream-premium thing about as well as VW did in the last decade. They’ve abandoned that pseudo-premium niche for mainstream market share but they seem to be doing the BARE minimum.

    • 0 avatar

      New cars need to be supported with marketing, parts, training, etc. It isn’t free to bring over new vehicles.

      They already have enough dogs as is. Giving them more cars that Americans don’t want would just make for a bigger kennel (and more losses.)

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’d like to pile on, but since Jetta sales are obviously ‘noisy’, and January is such a lousy sales month anyway, I’ll reserve judgment on the its status.

    But VWoA? It keeps sinking.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “But VWoA? It keeps sinking”

      Sinking from a record high in 2012, but at 367K units, 2014 was still the 3rd highest year in the 13-year record on goodcarbadcar. VW should be concerned, but many of you are making it sound like this has been a continuing decade-long decline from some golden age.

      2002 338,125
      2003 302,686
      2004 256,111
      2005 224,195
      2006 235,140
      2007 230,572
      2008 223,128
      2009 214,454
      2010 256,830
      2011 324,402
      2012 438,133
      2013 407,704
      2014 366,970

      • 0 avatar

        VW’s recent woes is similar to that of Cadillac – too slow in getting new CUV models on the lots to ride the CUV wave.

      • 0 avatar

        VW sank throughout the 00s on the strength of the self destructing, never-again garbage that they kept putting their name on.

        VW then spent billions of dollars reinventing themselves circa 2010-11 with all new cars for the US market which have declined in sales every year since they were introduced while the market around them was afire.

        It’s not a decade long decline. It’s 15 years and counting.

  • avatar

    VW has a reliability issue. plain and simple. I understand there are arguments against this claim (not many) but they can NOT deny this perception of their brand. How did Hyundai beat this?–by offering 10 year/100,000 mile warranties.

    So unless you, VW, step up do the same or better, you will forever be doomed in the United States.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “but they can NOT deny this perception of their brand”

      Everyone says this but no one provides evidence. Am I missing some major consumer perception survey that documents a negative brand image of VW based on reliability, or is this just the robotic repetition of a meme known only to car forum dwellers such as ourselves?

      • 0 avatar

        Whether there’s a consumer perception survey out there or not, the warranty data suggests there are enough customers who now know firsthand. To put it bluntly, they’re the one of the worst in the business when it comes to warranty costs and spend a bout as much per car as Mercedes, a luxury brand.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          That’s a decent metric to use and far better than the random anecdotes endlessly ricocheting around here.

          I’m guessing most consumers haven’t seen that data, though. They are more likely to have seen the average or better reliability scores for VW’s volume sellers, which suggest the repair frequency is not abnormal. Perhaps the per cost repair is ridiculously high?

          • 0 avatar

            VW also has high end vehicles included in their totals like Audi, Bentley, Porsche, Bugatti etc. but one would expect the comparative massive volume of their mainstream cars to offset the per car spending. The high spending per car indicates perhaps the owners that report on the surveys have some serious “German Engineering” confirmation bias about their cars. The repairs are likely more expensive than the average Toyota or Ford, but no way are they 2-3x comparatively.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s known to everybody I know that has owned VWs. One term that I have heard more than a few times from friends was “never again”. Then there’s always the odd person that has the VW that has “never left me stranded or have any issues”. They sound like they’ve hit the lottery or found the Arkenstone.

    • 0 avatar

      Hyundai didn’t just extend the warranty, it also made the cars more reliable. Hyundai made a concerted effort to improve quality by becoming a lean producer in a similar fashion to Toyota, and its cars became better as a result.

      Every automaker has borrowed from aspects of lean, but VAG’s general strategy for quite some time has been to focus on cost cutting and parts sharing. (VAG used to have a high cost structure that made it unprofitable; tackling that problem has greatly influenced its approach to doing business.)

      A mainstream car seller in the US has to acknowledge what Toyota and Honda are doing and find a way to beat them. They cannot be ignored by any company that wants to go beyond niche status. But doing this would require VAG in general and the VW brand in particular to fundamentally change aspects of how they do business, and it seems unlikely that they would want to reinvent themselves in that fashion. So barring some radical changes in the US market that would favor VW, I have my doubts that Volkswagen will ever be a major player in the US.

      • 0 avatar

        “Hyundai didn’t just extend the warranty, it also made the cars more reliable.”

        JD Power rates Hyundai’s reliability *below* VW:

  • avatar

    VW deserved this.

    I recently rented one of these on a buisness trip and could see no reason for ever buying one new, and I would not enjoy driving it as a used car either.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      What are you comparing the Jetta to? Compared to a Civic, Corolla, Elantra, and Forte the Jetta is remarkably more composed, solid, and enjoyable to drive and compared to the 3, Cruze and Focus it can be used as a legitimate four passenger sedan. The only problem I have with the car is the behind-the-times infotainment options.

      • 0 avatar

        We must have driven different cars, because when I test drove a Jetta last year, I was appalled by the overall cheapness of the interior and horrendous road feel. VW has de-contented and degraded the quality of this car into oblivion, and the Mexico build quality doesn’t help either.

        • 0 avatar

          What year Jetta did you drive last year? If it was pre about mid 2013, or it was a rental, it was decontented and cheap (drum rear brakes anyone). I own a 2014 Jetta SE and there is nothing decontented about it.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          That’s a given, what are the odds we would have driven the exact same machine? We’re talking Powerball probabilities there.

          Mexico has been building our Jettas since the 90s. What “Mexico build quality” issues do you think you are seeing?

          Look, I’ve got a Sportwagen with that super-plush MkV interior, so I can understand the mild shock when first thumping the dash of the current Jetta. Look beyond that irrelevance and you still have a car with comfortable seats, an excellent steering wheel and driving position, a solid feeling structure, and a ride/handling balance that feels very much like my Sportwagen. Nearly all of the attributes that made my car seem like a good buy are in this Jetta as well. Throw in the 1.8 powertrain and from a driving perspective it’s a no brainer when compared to most of the Japanese and Korean offerings.

  • avatar

    “An affordably high-riding family vehicle is required, but it’s not the complete answer, not for the American marketplace.”

    The brand itself is part of the problem. Not just because of the reliability, but also because of the perception of German cars as being some sort of specialty niche unto themselves.

    While there are some Americans who really, really, really want a Teutonmobile, there are many more who don’t. Without a complete reinvention that is centered around reasonable operating costs and minimal hassles (and with less emphasis on the quirky aspects of the brand), I can’t imagine that VW could ever be anything more than a niche player here. Not even at its peak has VW ever been a mainstream brand in the US.

  • avatar

    VW failed in the US when they moved to DC and set up shop on dulles toll road.

    That and anyone worth their salt can tell you exactly how to fix vw in the US.

    Get customer trust back by offering 10 year/100k warranties. Do it for a decade and then phase it out.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’d still like them to tell me why “German Engineering” is better than Korean engineering. The true answer isn’t politically correct.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I rather thought it was just a lazy marketing angle playing on the old “budget Bimmer” reputation. Care to elaborate on your opaque PC reference?

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve always hated that stupid nationalistic slogan, but it’s no worse than the “domestics” pushing the patriotism angle. At least you don’t see Toyota and Honda boasting about “Japanese engineering”.

      • 0 avatar

        They don’t have to. The few reliability missteps that they have made were ignored by the Japan fans anyway. Years of overall reliability give them the ability to take a few hits. Only when CR dropped automatic assumptions of top reliability on Toyotas did most take notice.

    • 0 avatar

      I always laugh a little, as does anyone who’s ever worked on German designed automobiles. A bunch of sadists those engineers are.

      No VW, it’s not time for German engineering.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m late to the VW bashing festivities, unfortunately, as no one cared to invite me. Losers! I’m crashing the party anyway just to say Danio’s post is spot on and to share some of my nonsensical babble.

        Although I did not quote repair costs, I remember prices were automatically DOUBLED, the second you drove on premise with a VW or Audi. Yes, even moreso than BMW or Benz. Ohhh you didn’t like the price quoted for labor? That’s perfectly fine, kindly take your business elsewhere, we don’t need the aggrevation, no hard feelings. Those who went ahead and hired our services; well us mechanics “in the back” would argue about who would have to perform the work on it.

        VW created tension and frustration before we ever even picked up a single tool. Lol I didn’t even want to perform a simple oil change for fear that the damn dipstick and dipstick tube would crumble into a million pieces no matter how gentle I was with it.

        Unfair? Possibly an unethical business practice that came down to simple shop economics. In the amount of time it takes me to swap a turbo, more like wrestle a turbo, on a POS transverse 1.8t, I could do a timing belt on a Subaru, a clutch on a Honda, and balljoints on a Jeep. Mind you, without ever busting a single knuckle or slurring a single curse word. No exagerration.

        I hate Volkswagen and I feel terrible for those who spend their hard earned money on them only to have their legitimate warranty claims denied.

  • avatar

    Looks like it will be a good time to buy a new Jetta. The incentives should look even better soon. The 1.8 Tsi is fun engine in the jetta.

  • avatar

    1. Hight cost of ownership. I nearly went broke paying for the upkeep on my Golf.
    2. Not enough value. Comparable vehicles offer more for the money.
    3. Slow on updates. 7-year life cycle doesn’t cut it here.
    4. Watered-down North American lineup. The truly desirable vehicles only available in Europe.

    This is why VW is, and always will be, a niche player in North America.

  • avatar

    Volkswagen: offer a 100,000 mile/ 10 year warranty, and sales will climb. But of course, that will never happen: VW would lose too much money!

  • avatar

    This generation’s Mexico-built Jettas are a deplorable embarrassment. Hideously cheap interiors and atrocious build quality, meant to appeal solely to Americans who can’t tell price from value. Sit in a current-gen Golf and the difference is striking.

    Why anyone would go for a Jetta given the competition in the class is utterly baffling.

  • avatar

    Wonder if after the harsher, more snowy winters most snow belters would rather have a subie or Jeep?

    Tight, on street parking in snowdrifts no fun with fwd. Gotta luv that little electric motor the japs add to the rear axle for low speed assist. The Cube had it but never made it to this market.

    Shit I guess adding it would effect sales on more profitable C-SUV lines…

  • avatar

    I suspect Jetta is down because of Golf.
    VW just cannot be competitive in USA.

  • avatar

    Apparently, few people realize that Ferdy Piech decided to punish America years ago for not recognizing the supreme engineering of VW. What’s more, the whining and general carrying on of US VW customers about little things like glovebox doors falling off or windows dropping unaided into the warmth of the inner door is simply not a valid excuse to the VW hierarchy. What’s an occasional design flaw across a whole line of cars got to do with VW superiority?

    When you’re running a vast empire of 122 factories across the world, you can afford to dedicate a few to churning out Friday afternoon specials on a consistent basis for those areas where customer complaints are highest.

    In order to stamp out the very highest quality bodies, VW invented the MQB system so that all their compact cars could share the same base underpinnings. This has almost bankrupted them, because they bought the most terrifyingly expensive machinery to accomplish this task. And predictably, they did not think far enough ahead.

    So last summer, workers were dragging around parts by hand in carts at Wolfsburg for the e-Golf or Golf E, or whatever they call it. The MQB machinery had been placed just so on the factory floor, and when the special requirements of the EV version meant some deviations from standard MQB, the even newer machinery had to be installed off to one side to manufacture the special stuff. Then workers had to cart those new parts to the assembly line through the MQB machinery area. Very clever. Not.

    Don’t believe me? Reuters reported it all last summer. You can Google it. Just an example of keeping all your eggs in one basket, a basket designed by intellectual giants who believed they could do no wrong.

    It was about the same time that Piech wound up the Black Forest clockwork mechanism on Martin Winterkorn, titular head of VW, so that he could stand up and tell everyone that VW needed to save $5 billion or so, because of the costs of MQB. VW’s union was not, and still remains unimpressed, because they figured out the obvious. Where were the savings to come from? Them. Because VW has figured out only one way to build the cars via MQB, there are limited opportunities to deviate from the Plan with cheap parts of VW manufacture. So, it’s hit the outside suppliers time, and squeeze the hired help too. Doesn’t bode well for VW to up the quality of their electrical connectors, which even FCA would shy away from. German quality engineering and their electrical capabilities are two separate things.

    And speaking for myself, things like the new VW GTI sun visors couldn’t be made for less than the 29 cents they presently cost -those are the nastiest I’ve seen in years.

    Of course, saving $5 billion hasn’t stopped Piech from ramming ahead to make the Phaeton II, at a loss of $28,000 per car in the. Even the Euro business types cannot work that out because it makes less than ZERO sense to build cars at a loss. Well, it’s Ferdy’s pet project, so he isn’t having any nonsense from the proles about how stupid the idea is.

    The US? Well, VW has for years not understood that Americans, once the euphoria of a new purchase has worn off, expect things to work for years with occasional repairs here and there, but no major issues. Everyone here knows that for some reason, VW just doesn’t get it.

    To cut costs on US bound cars, the new EA888 has a cheap cylinder head compared to the World version, and that includes Audis, and inside the Nav screen is the small cheap one from years ago.

  • avatar

    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….

  • avatar

    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.

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