By on July 15, 2015

02 Volkswagen Golf family

Following 18 consecutive months of year-over-year decline, U.S. sales at the Volkswagen brand have improved in six of the last nine months.

Yet those U.S. sales improvements send up deceiving smoke signals. While Volkswagen’s volume increased 6 percent in June, for example, the brand’s 30,436-unit total represented an 18-percent drop compared with June 2013 and a 20-percent decrease compared with June 2012.

In fact, on the six occasions during the last nine months that U.S. Volkswagen-brand sales improved, sales were lower — distinctly lower – than they were at the same time two years ago. Statisticians may call it a dead-cat bounce or a return to the norm. You can call it a 3 percent year-over-year decline through the first-half of 2015 and U.S. market share of just 2 percent.

Elsewhere in North America, the story is markedly different. Volkswagen is a hugely forceful brand in Mexico, where VW’s market share through the first five months of 2015 stood at 14 percent. Across the northern border of America, Volkswagen is the fastest-growing volume brand through the halfway point of 2015. Volkswagen sales in Canada are up 21 percent so far this year, and the brand’s market share is precisely twice as strong in Canada as it is in the U.S.

Comparisons with the Mexican market are indirect at best. The product lineups don’t actually line up, for starters, and the industry is, on a per capita basis, comparatively tiny. But there are great similarities between the U.S. and Canadian markets, including the product portfolio in VW showrooms on both sides of the border.

So how does Volkswagen Canada fare so much better than Volkswagen of America? Ignoring the obvious themes of pricing schemes, general acceptance in the populace, and demand for diesel (topics we’ve touched on in the past), consider the achievements of specific vehicles which now propel VW Canada to new heights and fail to do anything of the sort for VW USA.

The Jetta, Golf, and Tiguan produce 84 percent of Volkswagen’s sales in Canada. In the U.S., that figure is 20 points lower, and the Tiguan is barely Volkswagen’s fourth-best-selling model.

Keep in mind that the U.S. new vehicle market is nine times larger, as is the SUV/crossover market, but the U.S. passenger car market is nearly eleven times larger than Canada’s.

01 Volkswagen Jetta

THE JETTA
As it is the United States, the Jetta sedan is Volkswagen’s best seller in Canada. But the Jetta is only America’s 20th-best-selling car — it ranks sixth in Canada, where all of the midsize cars which outsell the Jetta in the U.S. are far less popular. But Canadian Jetta volume is falling. Sales are down 8 percent this year. That’s in keeping with market trends, as seven of Canada’s eight-best-selling cars are in decline.

A total of 15,053 Jettas have been sold in Canada so far this year. Jetta sedan sales in the U.S. are 4.3 times stronger at 64,578 units. (Volkswagen USA has also sold 2,440 Jetta SportWagens as the wagon transitions to the Golf family, a nameplate it already wore in Canada.) Jetta sedan sales in the U.S. are down 2 percent after rising 0.1 percent in 2014, falling 4 percent in 2013 and 3 percent in 2012. In Canada, 2014’s record-setting performance marked the Jetta’s fifth consecutive year sales improvement.

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI white

 

THE GOLF
Golf sales in the U.S. have steadily increased since the Mk7 car was introduced last year. It’s true: demand for compact cars is certainly greater, per capita, in Canada. U.S. compact car volume is only 6.6 times stronger, a much smaller differential than we see in the car market as a whole. But total Golf sales aren’t quite three times as strong in the much larger U.S. market than they are in Canada, where the Golf is now the eighth-best-selling car.

Only 2.5 percent of the new cars sold in the United States are Jettas and Golfs. The same two cars produce 6.7 percent of the Canadian car market, more than any other car save for the Honda Civic, Canada’s best-selling car in each of the last 17 years, and the Toyota Corolla. Volkswagen USA only sells around 3,240 non-GTI Golfs per month. In the much smaller Canadian market, that figure falls just 54 percent.

03 Volkswagen Tiguan

THE TIGUAN
SUV and crossover sales are booming on both sides of the border, but the Tiguan is a niche player in the United States and an increasingly popular component in the Canadian SUV/crossover sector. Every month, Americans buy approximately 483,000 utility vehicles, of which 0.5 percent are Tiguans. U.S. Tiguan sales have declined in each of the last two years after peaking in 2012 at a paltry 31,731 units. So far this year, Tiguan volume is up, but only to the tune of 4 percent. U.S. Tiguan volume is just 2.4 times stronger than Canadian Tiguan volume.

In Canada, the Tiguan’s share of the SUV/crossover market is nearly four times stronger than it is south of the border. Tiguan sales have increased in Canada in each of the last three years, reaching an all-time high of 10,096 units in 2014. 5,613 have been sold in the first-half of 2015, a 10-percent increase compared with the first six months of 2014. The Tiguan is Canada’s 15th-best-selling utility vehicle through the first-half of 2015; it ranks 51st in the United States.

THE OTHER STUFF
As for VW’s other models, Beetle volume matches the size of the respective markets, with U.S. sales nine times greater than in Canada.

Passat/CC sales are 14 times stronger in the U.S. than in Canada, but the U.S. midsize car market is actually 20 times the size of Canada’s.

Touareg sales are only three times stronger in the U.S.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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76 Comments on “Contrast: Volkswagen’s U.S. Outpost Struggles As Volkswagen Canada Booms...”


  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    On the one hand one could argue Canadians are more “European”. But on the other hand the North American Jetta and Passat are Americanized.

    One thing that always will prevent me from buying a VW (besides quality), they use red blinkers. I understand domestic brands using red blinkers instead of amber since they are used to that. But VW spends money to change from amber to red. Don’t they realize if you want to charge a premium based on “Germanness”, americanizing it makes it less desirable (safe for cup holders, please americanize those)?

    One difference in the market could be the average age of a car in Canada may be shorter? so the long term releibaility (or lack thereof) may matter less.

    another reason could be, VW drive very nice as small cars. Canada being a small car market may appreciate the small car not being a penalty box more.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Canadians have a greater preference for small cars due to higher fuel prices and generally higher cost of everything. It just so happens that VW offers a good variety of small cars. You see a lot of them in Toronto and especially Montreal. You could argue the European influence is greater in Quebec.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        “Canadians have a greater preference for small cars”

        VW Total Sales US 2015 YTD: 174,442

        Toyota Corolla US 2015 YTD: 190,131

        Love Good Car Bad Car!

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        I have to agree with Danio. We like small cars but then again we also like pickups. Per capita we buy both more than Americans. Most of the Canadian population is within 100 km of the USA. That is where the majority of our large cities are located. Most live in dense urban areas that also favour smaller vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Cabriolet

      Last time i looked my VW Mk6 & Mk1 both had amber blinkers. And for the record my Mk1 is 25 years old and still going strong.

      • 0 avatar

        I am a huge amber blinker fan. I think the color difference, red means stop, amber means warning makes great sense.

        I’m sure the “one bulb”, not two, and the one process lens are cheaper, but this is a safety feature to me, and worth the $4 at OE prices to do.

    • 0 avatar
      2kriss2kross

      Totally agree with you on the rear turn signal colors. Red turn signals reek of cost cutting and laziness. Sad the Germans are taking this route, Audi and Porsche being the most drastic by having the whole taillight flash a blinding red when signaling. Is it to save money? I don’t see the purpose or advantage. If it’s not a regulation requirement, why bother? Little issue to worry about I know but it has been on my mind lately. If I’m getting a European car, I’d like it to be as European as possible including the little details.

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        They don’t use the Euro tail lights with amber signals because the modern Euro taillight so with LED turn signals don’t meet the archaic DOT requirement for a minimum area for illumination of the turn signals. The only way for them to reasonably reach those area requirements without a completely different aesthetic is to just light up the red twilight bulb as a turn signal.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Red turn signals reek of cost cutting and laziness.”

        It’s probably more of a styling decision.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Yeah, I’d never buy a vehicle with red turn signals. When I’m driving around in my car, I really hate seeing my rear turn signals broadcast that color. Nothing is more distracting that focusing on your rear turn signals when you should be looking at the road ahead.

      • 0 avatar
        2kriss2kross

        It’s sometimes hard to see the road ahead, especially at night, when the car in front of you has full LED red turn signals that rival Las Vegas in brightness. I’m not against red turn signals or owning a car with them (I currently drive one with them), I just don’t see the logic the Germans have in changing them just for the North American market.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          You’re thinking of Dodge with its casino-bright LEDs and those are flaring away even without the turn signal on.

          A turn signal is making it hard to see the road ahead? Are you following six inches from a Passat who forgot to turn the blinker off after their last lane change?

          Mostly, I’m just amazed that there are people that concerned about such a trivial thing, I cannot say I turn signal color would ever be a purchasing decision for me.

          • 0 avatar
            2kriss2kross

            Agreed it’s a trivial and petty thing to base a car buying decision on. Wouldn’t stop me from buying a car. I just see the Germans implementing them as so non-European and non-premium, it’s just not like them.

          • 0 avatar
            redmondjp

            It’s not just German cars – it’s a cost-cutting thing. It’s cheaper not to have multiple colors of plastic in the light housing. Which these days can be a non-issue now that we use LEDs.

            Look at the Honda Odyssey – its center high-mounted stop lamp was LED back in 1998, and it’s been incandescent ever since then.

            Progress, or cost-cutting?

    • 0 avatar
      TOTitan

      My 12 sportwagen has amber turn signals

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    These U.S. market share totals make Volkswagen the Windows Phone of new car sales.

  • avatar
    Brumus

    VWs are particularly popular in Quebec (or at least Montreal).

    Odd thing is, the three people I know who own VWs have all had numerous major issues with their not-so-old cars, yet still swear by them.

  • avatar
    EAF

    I dunno, prob cuz Canadians is more stupider than Americans?

    No seriously, as already stated, it is definitely because of VW’s monopoly on the diesel powered commuter. I remember reading that 45% of VW sales, in Canada, are diesels. Striking number, does anyone know what that precentage is in the U.S. of A?

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Several factors at play here.

    First, VW of America seemingly provides the worse after-sales service of any manufacturer in the US. You read constant complaints here and elsewhere about US VW dealers. The odd bad dealer experience is normal, but when almost everybody feels like they are being screwed, it’s because of the distributor.

    Second, Americans will find it hard to believe that VWs have a pretty good rep in Canada, as far as reliability and durability are concerned. They don’t rust nearly as fast as Japanese cars (a huge concern in most of the country), and don’t need alignments every time they hit a pothole (ditto). Parts are cheap and readily available, even for older models.

    Third, guilty as charged. Canadians do like “European” style and handling, or at least the 2/3rds of Canadians who live in large cities.

    I think the real story is not the fact that Canadian VW sales are high, it’s the fact that US VW sales are so low. There’s something rotten at VW of America, and it’s absolutely stunning that head office hasn’t managed to fix this, year after year, decade after decade.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      VWoA’s issues can be traced to the fact that it takes them too long to get vehicles to market here and the fact that they massively misjudged the direction of the market about 7-8 years ago. Since it takes them so long to get new models to market here, the misjudgment of the market is taking way too long to correct. The two misjudgments they made were decontenting the Passat and Jetta and not making mainstream SUV/CUV models as that market has exploded.

      • 0 avatar
        Mackie

        It takes just as long for new models to get to market in Canada too. Both countries are on the same product launch timeline. Canada also suffered the downgraded Jetta and Passat. I think it all comes down to how the brand is perceived in Canada vs. the US. I think Americans are just less willing to forget VW’s poor-reliability era. I personally feel those problems are well in the past.

        I owned a 2011 Golf and it was a fantastic, trouble-free car—until it got totalled in an accident. My only gripe with the car was the higher-than-average cost of upkeep. I now drive a boring as F (but much cheaper to maintain) Japanese econobox.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          You do realize that to Americans, high cost of upkeep is akin to rather poor reliability? If you’re always buying new parts, that’s not “reliable.”

          Your Golf was awesome and trouble-free except it needed new parts all the time and cost a lot of money to run.

          Great!

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Customer service surveys from JD Power make VW seem average. I wouldn’t confuse internet anecdotes with data.

      The Japanese made significant inroads into the US market via California during the 1970s, which created momentum for further growth. With Toyota and Honda both mastering lean production and higher reliability, VW lost ground and never recovered.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I don’t find it hard to believe at all that VW has a good reputation in Canada – they do in Maine as well. For much the same reasons. They didn’t rust like the Japanese, and they weren’t as sucky as American cars all those years. And in a place where the roads are twisty and bumpy, they drive well. The dealers are dealers. They all mostly suck, irregardless of brand, until you get into the butt-kissing luxury makes. Then they are just really, really expensive.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @khrodes 1
        They are also getting a reasonable reputation in Australia, unlike Ford’s European offerings here. We wait and see how GM does with it’s new batch of Opels

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Articles on VW’s sales status are fun. No so much the content but the “everyone’s an expert” party that follows.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    VW’s main issue in the US is simple – they don’t have competitive crossovers. The Tiguan and Touareg are comically named, and more importantly, they’re comically overpriced. On the bright side, the Golf is BRILLIANT.

    Some other suggestions:
    1) Stop with the damn “leatherette” upholstery and offer cloth. This isn’t Germany, and in Colorado on a hot summer day, you can cook your legs on black leatherette.
    2) Put the Jetta on the MK7 Golf platform.
    3) Stop with the option weirdness. I have been shopping the Golf and found you can’t get the basic S model with a six speed unless you order it with a sunroof. Why?
    4) Throw in some exterior brightwork on more basic Golf models – they sell at a premium price in this segment, but don’t look the part unless you’re stepping up into the high-$20,000 range.
    5) Come up with other names for the Touraeg and Tiguan. The only association they have in this market is “highly overpriced SUVs”.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      In Germany, you CAN get cloth, even in luxury models (usually it’s full alcantara in those models). The Germans offer leather and synthetics here because the typical US consumer sees these as marks of a premium vehicle over any kind of cloth. A loud minority of enthusiasts scream for high quality cloth interiors but in reality the demand just isn’t there for it in the US market,

      • 0 avatar
        GS 455

        I just don’t get why people equate leather in cars with luxury. If you go into a high end furniture store you’ll see a lot more cloth sofas and chairs than leather.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        derekson, few US consumers want plastic seats because they’re painfully uncomfortable on hot summer days and hard and brittle on cold winter mornings. The acceptable lower-cost alternative to full leather is “leather seating surfaces” which is mostly synthetic, but with leather where you sweat.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          There is very, very little difference between what is sold in lower-end cars (<50-60K or so) as leather and the vinyl the Germans use. Cheap leather is effectively sealed and plastic coated, and it does not breath at all. The vinyl lasts one heck of a lot longer.

          Personally, I would prefer cloth but the overwhelming majority of people I know do not want cloth due to the problem of keeping it clean.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      If VW made the RAV-4 (but with VW reliability), it still wouldn’t be a strong seller.

      VW reliability is only meh and it markets itself as a European car company. Nobody should be surprised that a marque that uses niche branding is regarded as a niche brand.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    As far as VWs in Mexico goes, I would love to be able to get the versions of the VWs they can get down there. There are a few models from other makes as well. Well, maybe not the Chevy Chevy, but there are others.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      What?

    • 0 avatar
      2kriss2kross

      I have my eyes on the little El Camino-like trucklets Volkswagen and Chevrolet sell in Mexico, the Saveiro and Tornado, respectively. Ram also sells a Fiat based one. Living an hour and a half from the Mexican border and surrounded by plenty of major freeways, I see them occasionally. I’d also welcome the Polo and the Caddy here.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I think Marcelo said those VW and Chevrolet ones (also sold in Brazil) were crap.

        • 0 avatar
          2kriss2kross

          True, they’re not shining examples of quality and safety and an example of the grass looking greener on the other side but just the fact that something the US really lacks (a truly compact truck) is available just south of us is still awesome nonetheless.

  • avatar
    pbr

    I don’t know that “slipping” sales numbers are necessarily a bad thing, I’ve been thinking (probably read it somewhere) that after a couple of less-well received generations of decontented models, VW have gone back to following the iPhone model of balancing featuers and price vs. volume to maximize profits instead of trying to top the volume charts.

    For my $0.02, most VW models are overpriced for what they are, though there are exceptions.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    This article needs graaaaaaaaphs.

  • avatar

    Here’s a question: How many of those Canadian VW sales are fleet sales?

    Most of the rental agencies here in Canada are awash with mid-trim Tiguans, Golfs, Passats, and Jettas. Other than Chrysler, they are the single most common brand I’ve gotten for my rentals (I rent a lot), and that’s especially significant because I almost never rent anything small enough to have them give me a Jetta or Golf.

    Is it the same in the US? Because I’ve never seen many/any VWs on the US rental lots.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    What I’m curious about is, who has the advertising account with VW of Canada, and do Canadians “get” to see the ads produced by Deutsch for VW of America?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxVXBuuo3rc

    Volkswagen’s advertising in the U.S. has been terrible for years now, and it has to have an effect on the vast majority of people who are in the market for a car but aren’t car people.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    What of brand image?

    I would really like to read others views regarding that.

    In Canada VW is seen as a European vehicle. The Passat for example is widely considered to be a somewhat upmarket, mid size sedan.

    However in the USA it appears that VW is still lumbered with the downmarket image associated with it once being a ‘low cost’ seller.

    Is this still true?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      In the US, the VW brand* is viewed as unreliable European crap (hecho in Mexico tambien) which is expensive to fix (because it’s German).

      Really, Americans are pretty spot-on about the VW models we receive here*!

      *The Golf gets an exception from this, as it has it’s own little special fan club. But that’s not the “average consumer.”

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      “What of brand image?”

      Less reliable Hyundai/Kia without a 100K mile warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Around here, VW is a hipster brand for people who want to appear to be outside the mainstream and see how much punishment they can take before giving up.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Arthur, Volkswagen is a quirky niche brand in the US. It’s not downmarket, but your neighbors and coworkers won’t be impressed by your Passat. The problem is Volkswagen cars come with the maintenance headaches of German cars without the prestige of BMW, Mercedes, or Audi. I suspect the problem is a combination of stubborn German engineers, problems with replacement part distribution in the US, and bad Volkswagen dealers. US consumers would rather lease an Audi than buy a Volkswagen.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        It’s not the dealers, it’s Volkswagen of America making life difficult for dealers and for their own customers.

        Aftermarket VW parts aren’t expensive or rare, even German-made parts. Thing is, the distribution network for VW, Mercedes and BMW parts is completely separate from Big 3 and Japanese brands.

        Any shop that keeps GM wheel bearings in stock will take weeks to source a VW water pump (and charge you a mint). A Euro parts distributor will have stock on hand. Check the marque forums (vwvortex) for good local parts sources.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        “Volkswagen is a quirky niche brand in the US. It’s not downmarket”

        I don’t know about that. The public face of new VWs isn’t the GTI or TDI wagon that car enthusiasts talk about. VW has sold all of 11,000 GTIs this year. It’s the Jetta on a $149 lease special.

        And the lion’s share of VWs actually seen on the roads, at least around here, are mid 00s crap from BHPH lots with BHPH owners.

        Saabs they’re not.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    “Following 18 consecutive months of year-over-year decline, U.S. sales at the Volkswagen brand have improved in six of the last nine months.”

    Dead cat bounce.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Admit it– you want a VW, but your Mom/wife/fear of ghosts won’t let you have one. So you must work out your resentments here, every time the forbidden brand is mentioned.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Wheatridger – I walked away after researching reliability/durability. My fear was of ghostly repair bills.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        That’s one kind of research. The stats I’ve seen at CR and true delta, primarily, show VW at mid-pack and improving. Then there’s the big recall stories, some of them lethal: VW’s been absent from those (GM? Toyota? BMW? Are you listening?).

        My own ’09 GTI has had one big repair between 30-80K miles (ABS computer, $1200). My wife’s Tiguan has needed nothing during three years of warranty but a sunroof cleaning. My VW mechanic tells me they are two of the most reliable VWs ever, and that’s good enough for me.

        I’ve taken detours into Swedish and Japanese cars. The SAAB 9000s were beautiful bundles of recurring trouble, with flawed clutches and heater cores that demanded bi-annual replacement. My Subaru suffered the usual early head gasket failure, broke its center diff three months out of warranty, and just before I sold it, the charcoal canister blew chunks through the fuel system. I spent over $4000 repairing those major components.

        So are VWs reliable? It all depends on what you compare them to. Mine are more reliable than any other brand I’ve owned, and more reliable than past VWs I had, too. But, hey, sometimes you need to take some risks to get what you want.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I find it’s usually the other way around.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I like VWs, but was so badly burned on the one I owned that I wince whenever I see one.

      That car was both my favorite car and the worst piece of $#!t I ever owned.

      I drive a Sienna, now.

  • avatar
    PriusV16

    It just occurred to me that Volkswagen is a bit like Apple.

    Contrary to popular belief, Apple computers (Macs) aren’t always the dead-reliable machines that they are reputed to be. I’ve had a few Macs in my life, and they all had their (sometimes serious) hardware troubles and hardware reliability issues.

    The thing is…. *WHEN* they work, they are nothing short of brilliant, providing a far better user experience than any Dell or HP.

    VW seems to be the same. They aren’t bullet-proof when it comes to durability, but as long as they work, they are a joy to drive.

    I guess it all comes down to what you value more — rugged practicality and dependability….. or that little something that you can’t quite put your finger on, as long as nothing goes wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Keep dreaming. My macbooks have lasted longer than any of the ZF 01M gearboxes I owned when I had a Volkswagen.

      I agree that the aesthetic appeal is similar, somehow, but I can’t put my finger on it.

      The similarity is not in the massochism required to maintain a VW after the warranty has expired, though.

  • avatar
    GS 455

    For a long time in Canada Audi, BMW and Mercedes were relatively more expensive than in the US and even the lower rung models were out of reach for most people. Volkswagen was the only way for them to get into a vehicle with “euro cachet”. I’ve never been a VW fanboy but I test drove a Touareg/Comfortline and an Acura MDX/Tech and I have to say I liked the Touareg much better. The ride was steadier and more controled yet bump absorbtion was much better in the Touareg. For me the seat in the VW was one of the most comfortable I’ve sat in whereas I couldn’t get comfortable in the MDX’s seat. I liked the solid, sure-footed feel of the Touareg’s handling and most controls were easier to use. To get the features I want they were priced fairly closely. But yeah, I don’t trust Volkswagen’s reliability.

  • avatar
    jimble

    VW offers some very aggressive prices in Canada vs. the US. The cheapest Jetta in Canada goes for only $14,990, vs. over 17k in the US. Of course the el-cheapo “Trendline” Jetta is really low on content, but Canadians do seem to appreciate a cheap car more than most Americans do.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      I don’t know if VW dealers in Canada discount similarly to those in the US, but a “17k” Jetta can easily be had for $14k in the US at the moment.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    There are probably a number of factors at work. High Canadian gas prices make the diesel option attractive (currently diesel is 10 cents cheaper per litre than regular in Vancouver). Why VW doesn’t offer the Tiguan with diesel is beyong me.

    As pointed out VW has a euro chachet in Canada. Especially many Chinese immigrants who would like a BMW will buy a VW as an acceptable downmarket alternative, which they wouldn’t do with a KIA. For millenials there’s the cool factor: a Golf is cool, a Corolla isn’t.

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