Volkswagen USA's Sales Decline Begins Anew In February 2015

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
volkswagen usa s sales decline begins anew in february 2015

The Volkswagen brand had arrested its sales decline in the United States. After 18 consecutive months of decreased year-over-year volume, Volkswagen sales increased in October, November, December, and January.

• Everything but the Golf drops

• Golf R returns

• Total Golf sales up 138%

Granted, those increased sales appeared only in comparison to the prior year period, when Volkswagen was in the middle of an 18-month downward streak. Compared with the equivalent period two years earlier, VW of America sales tumbled 12% in October 2014, 14% in November, 23% in December, and 19% in January 2015. Moreover, the reported yeear-over-year improvements were mostly slight: 8% in October, 3% in November, 0.1% in December, and 0.04% in January.

Perhaps Volkswagen was simply regressing toward the mean, rather than stopping a oncoming train in its tracks. February volume slid 5% in a market which grew 5%.

Even with some new product in Volkswagen showrooms – overall Golf volume more than doubled to 3921, an increase of 2272 units – the losses reported by the brand’s other models brought the brand down by 1402 sales compared with February 2014; by 5746 compared with February 2013.

Non-Golf volume slid 14% as Beetle sales plummeted 30%, the departing Eos plunged 40%, the aged CC was down 57%, Tiguan and Passat sales dropped 10%, and Touareg volume fell 8%.

Overall Jetta volume was down 9%, but much of that decline was due to the severe slowdown of Jetta SportWagen sales – the Mk7 Golf wagon will actually be a Golf. The Jetta sedan was a relatively stable corner of the Volkswagen lineup. Sales dropped by just 4%, a loss of only 378 sales, year-over-year. It accounts for 38% of Volkswagen USA’s sales through the first two months of 2015.

Regardless, the addition of 362 Golf R sales (the previous model ended its run last summer), 130 e-Golfs, a doubling of GTI volume, and a 119% increase in Golf sales didn’t turn Volkswagen into even a moderately high-volume brand. After averaging 36,500 monthly sales in 2012 and appearing like a brand that could turn on the jets in America, it became readily apparent that a luxury SUV and an undersized and overpriced small crossover weren’t going to cut it in a market which veered away from cars toward utility vehicles. Of equal or greater importance was the fact that the brand’s core cars, Jetta and Passat, had significant initial appeal but ranked low in terms of long-lasting desirability.

That’s not to say Jetta interest completely dried up. It’s America’s 17th-best-selling car so far this year and ranked 13th in 2014. But as the standard-bearer for a brand with lofty goals, the volume it generates is simply not sufficient to form the basis of a high-volume automaker in the United States.

As a result of all the brand’s issues, Volkswagen’s February market share tumbled to 2% in 2015, down from 2.3% in February 2014, 2.6% in February 2013, and 2.7% in February 2012.

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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  • Powerlurker Powerlurker on Mar 08, 2015

    The problem is that VW sees itself as a premium brand while in the US it's seen as an overpriced mass-tier brand, especially after they redid their lineup to make it less appealing to the stealth-wealth buyers and encouraged them to move up to Audi.

  • Atom9 Atom9 on Mar 20, 2015

    I have always liked Volkswagen's yet even though I do like there cars what I don't like is the Dealerships in the USA. The sales practices that they use are deceptive. They give you an OTD price have you come in they try to charge you thousands more than the vehicle. Or when a vehicle is going to be discontinued they lie and say that the vehicle is not being discontinued. Or if there is a rebate on a car and you ask them about it they say there is no rebate and when you show them that there is one they say they were not aware this and thanks to bringing it to there attention. Sure there are many car dealerships other than VW that use deceptive practices but VW as a whole endorses this. When I had a problem with a VW dealership I filed a complaint with VW America. The advocate case worker told me that "let's be honest we only sell our vehicles to the dealer and once he buys our cars then what ever happens between you and dealership is no longer our concern" So the problem is that if VW America is willing to admit they look the other way when there is wrong doing with the dealership then how do they expect to have return customers. This is why sales are decreasing and Subaru sales are soaring.

  • Tassos ask me if I care.
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  • MaintenanceCosts These are everywhere around here. I'm not sure the extra power over a CR-V hybrid is worth the fragile interior materials and the Kia dealership experience.
  • MaintenanceCosts It's such a shame about the unusable ergonomics. I kind of like the looks of this Camaro and by all accounts it's the best-driving of the current generation of ponycars. A manual 2SS would be a really fun toy if only I could see out of it enough to drive safely.
  • ToolGuy Gut feel: It won't sell all that well as a new vehicle, but will be wildly popular in the used market 12.5 years from now.(See FJ Cruiser)