By on November 4, 2015

2016 Volkswagen Tiguan

Improve. Increase. Rise. Grow.

These are all words that can be applied to the status of Volkswagen’s sales in the United States in October 2015.

Yes, that Volkswagen. The brand which, it was revealed in late September, was intentionally cheating on emissions tests with four-cylinder diesel engines, powerplants found under the hood of approximately one-fifth of the vehicles sold by the company in America. The brand which has seen its share price tumble as more negative information is uncovered each day. The brand which was forced to set aside billions of euros to cover some of the costs of a massive, yet-to-take-place recall.

Yes, that brand, Volkswagen, sold 74 more new vehicles in October 2015 than they did one year earlier, a 0.2-percent year-over-year increase during a period in which the auto industry produced a 13.6-percent gain.

Auto sales exploded in October 2015 with a seasonally adjusted annual rate in excess of 18 million units. The 1.455 million new vehicles sold in America in October 2015 represents 174,000 more new vehicle sales than the industry managed in October 2014, as passenger car volume increased by a modest amount, as pickup truck sales rose seven percent, as SUVs/crossovers jumped 28 percent.

Yet until Reuters revealed in the latter stages of the month that Volkswagen of America may actually sell more new vehicles this October than last, it was rightfully assumed that Volkswagen’s U.S. volume would tumble. After all, more than 20 percent of the vehicles the company typically sells in a given month, 2.0L TDI models, weren’t allowed to be sold.

Volkswagen HQ spent millions to comfort dealers which, already suffering from a U.S. sales slowdown, desperately needed to sell cars. Not only was much of a Volkswagen’s typical sales potential washed away with the four-cylinder diesel stop-sale, there were great fears that the company’s image was instantly and severely tarnished.

In such desperate circumstances, Volkswagen went straight after loyalists, luring current Volkswagen customers into dealers with thousands in rebates on gas-powered cars.

Before the scandal even erupted, significant incentives at Volkswagen were already required to maintain remotely respectable volume. And even with those incentives in place, Volkswagen was struggling.

In the face of greater adversity, Volkswagen dealers upped the ante with an ultra-focused aim on delivering gas-powered cars. TrueCar estimates suggest that Volkswagen Group per-unit incentive spending jumped 29 percent to more than $3,300 in October 2015.

VW’S Big Movers
4,815 1,803 167%
Golf GTI
2,520 1,724 46.2%
678 593 14.3%
596 1 59,500%
Golf R
394 202 95.0%
9,521 4,323 120%

Consider this: Volkswagen nameplates which weren’t previously available with diesel engines – CC, Eos, Golf GTI, Golf R, e-Golf, and Tiguan – posted a combined sales increase of 120 percent, a gain of 5,198 sales compared with October 2014. Those six vehicles generated only 14 percent of Volkswagen’s U.S. volume at this time last year, but 31 percent last month.

For the Tiguan, October became the nameplate’s best ever month as year-over-year volume jumped 167 percent. GTI sales jumped above 2,000 units for the first time since August of last year. CC sales rose to a 14-month high, climbing on a year-over-year basis for the first time since April 2013. The all-electric e-Golf achieved its best month ever. And October was also the best month yet for the Mk7 Golf R.

Meanwhile, sales of the Touareg – an SUV now linked to a new six-cylinder diesel emissions dilemma– and Passat rose 45 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

2016 Volkswagen e-Golf

Over at Volkswagen’s upmarket brands, Audi and Porsche, sales jumped 17 percent and 11 percent in October. Even the A3, which was unavailable with the arrested 2.0-liter TDI, posted a 15-percent improvement and accounted for more than one-third of Audi’s passenger car volume. While Porsche car sales slid 23 percent, its two-pronged utility vehicle lineup shot up 63 percent to 2,362 units, nearly six out of every ten Porsche sales last month.

All was not sunshine and roses, of course. Besides the costly lengths to which Volkswagen had to go to generate this level of sales activity, the brand’s top seller still declined. Jetta sedan volume plunged 36 percent, a loss of 4,821 units. The Beetle lineup plummeted 34 percent. The TDI-dependent Golf SportWagen generated only 983 October sales, down by more than half compared with its average from the previous five months. Volkswagen’s market share slid from 2.4 percent in October 2014 to 2.1 percent in October 2015.

A 0.2-percent uptick is not a sign of revival, particularly not when the sales figures were released to coincide with news that Volkswagen’s gas-powered cars have their own emissions troubles.

Stable volume may, however, be a sign that Volkswagen has the wherewithal to propel the company’s real customers, the dealers, through a self-inflicted crisis.

Timothy Cain is the founder of, 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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27 Comments on “Volkswagen USA Sales Actually Increased In October 2015, Powered By Big Rebates...”

  • avatar

    Ugh look how crap that Tiguan looks, bumper sticking out there like a child’s pouty lower lip. Needed a redesign completely two years or more ago!

  • avatar

    Rebates don’t help much since it reduces the company’s overall profits.

    The core vehicles, as reported, Jetta/Beetle but no mention of the Passat dropped in sales.

    The Tiguan was refreshed with more equipment and a slightly lower price though still cost more than the competitors’ CUVs. It was acceptable, as I’ve driven one from relatives, but it was Not roomy and quite expensive considering that VW’s competitors’ CUVs offered more room and features.

    It’s also misleading (%) when looking at certain vehicle sales like:
    e-Golf 596 CY 1 PY 59,500% change
    Eos 394 CY 202 PY 95.0% change

    Think I’ve seen the Eos or e-Golf ONCE in a couple of months in my area.

    • 0 avatar

      The Passat didn’t drop in sales, as mentioned in the article it rose 25%: 8116 (2015) vs 6513 (2014) to be exact.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not surprised that with proper pricing they would move a lot of Tiguans. We have a 2011 Tiguan SEL owned since new with 65k miles on it…Just as trouble free as our previous Toyota Highlander and a million times more fun to drive i.e. the GTI on stilts line you hear. Great rear passenger room at the expense of some cargo area but I’ll take that trade. Get better than the EPA MPG ratings in general. Other than dumping premium gas in it, not much not to like. For people that like driving it crushes competitors like the RAV4 and CR-V and is more refined than the CX-5.

  • avatar

    I am really into this VW style – these sharp edges. And pricing couldn’t better. But tell me why would I pick Passat with 1.8T over 2.4-5 Accord/Mazda6, especially iTouring that also comes with 6MT. And Accords are dirt cheap, [LX has climate control]?? Just why Passat?

    • 0 avatar

      This morning I saw a circa 2010 Passat 3.6 4MOTION. That has to be somewhat rare. And also broke the bank when new (and in the service bay today), relatively speaking.

    • 0 avatar

      You should not. I leased a 2012 Passat manual for 3 years.

      It was very good in many ways. But it had the worst ride of any car I have ever driven. Felt like the front shocks were completely disconnected at moderate speeds. Great highway cruiser, though. And 37 mpg on long trips.

      Not recommended!

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks @vvk. There was a review recently here on Passat. All reviewer said, it has “damn good ride”. without any description or comparison to other rides. To me, “damn good ride” has Accord. I like cars with good steering and handling. Mazda6/Accord – Ok, Altima/Camry – Not Ok. I see good price for Passat now, but may be I don’t understand something. Just by packaging alone I see no reason to buy it. To me, for what I am looking for in cars, Mazda6 iSport is the closest thing. iTouring is sweet, but leatherette and 19-inch wheels make me go, “ah”.

        • 0 avatar

          You can get 19″ wheels.

          You can get a good ride.

          You can’t get both, at least not on anything smaller than a full-size pickup.

          The *18″* wheels on my XC70 make bumps and potholes unpleasant, and that thing has a more forgiving suspension than anything with “sport” in the name…

          • 0 avatar

            Sigivald, I suspect you are thinking “too firm,” which could not be further from the truth. When I say poor ride, I mean marshmallow soft, like a water bed. As in completely undamped front end. And no, not like a Buick LeSabre, not at all. Far, far worse.

            I would drive the Passat out of my driveway and it would still be bouncing up and down when I reached the stop sing down the street. Terrible! German engineers are probably sneering somewhere, thinking this is what Americans want. Hated driving it locally. Loved driving it on long trips.

          • 0 avatar

            If I can step over leatherette and get Mazda6 iTouring, first thing I will do, – buy 17 inchers like on iSport and sell 19-inch. But only for cost of maintenance reason. I really don’t consider Mazda3 harsh. Acura TSX was harsh, 1989 Civic was. Even 1994 Civic was. But then I got into 98 Protege and realized that suspension can be tight, yet soft, aggressive, yet forgiving.

            Here is what suspension has to be for me. Somebody was closely following me in Camry on a nice curve. As curve was getting worse, I was getting more speed in Mazda3. Camry behind started to lean too much and driver obviously just fell behind because car was under stress. Then both went on highway and this Camry wend by me really fast. Anyone can go fast and straight. I want my car go fast in curves. It doesn’t have to be Ferrari handling but some handling, please

        • 0 avatar

          Yeah, I switch most of my cars to smaller wheels. Replaced the ridiculous 19″ on my 550i with 17″ — ahh, so much better! Despite going from Michelin Pilots AS2s to BMW-spec summer Dunlop runflats (got a stupendous deal on a dealer set from Germany,) the ride is so much better. Obviously, handling, acceleration and braking are all better, too. Replaced 17″ on my 325i with 16″ — perfect! Large wheels are pure lunacy!

  • avatar

    Look at all the free publicity it has been getting!

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Quick & Dirty: Sportwagen sales 2014 vs 2015 YTD

  • avatar

    A pile of cash on the hood *does* make a gas-engine VW rather more compelling.

    I mean, if I was in that market, I’d be looking real close as a Jetta or Passat, I suppose.

    • 0 avatar

      I really like the idea of a base model, 5spd manual SportWagen, they are priced very well and cash on the hood on top of that could perhaps sway even this Japanese-car driving skeptic. In the back of my mind though I could not bring myself to so much as test drive one, the new 1.8T mill would inevitably have some issues, although I was already avoiding one big headache by not considering a DSG.

      And then…. shearing camshafts! This is supposedly an engine (EA888) that’s been used in Europe for some time, why the heck is it having such catastrophic failures all of a sudden?


      • 0 avatar

        It sounds like it may be a problem with the supplier of these particular cams, and that’s not likely to get me out of my eleven year old 160,000 mile Japanese station wagon even if VW is now the only game in town any more.

  • avatar

    So basically what you are saying is; Price matters and TTAC is irrelevant.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This surprises me, but it is not sustainable.

    When the space shuttle Challenger blew up, it actually experienced a massive and momentary increase in speed as the exploding hydrogen tank pushed it upward. Then all this stuff happened.

  • avatar

    The sales increase was probably due to people figuring they’d get a good deal on non-diesel VWs. They probably got fleeced by sharp salesfolk knowing how to appeal to greed.

    Today I heard that in Canada, VW is offering dealers $25/month floorplan compensation on each stock unit. Since floorplan costs are typically $65 to $70/month, $25 isn’t going to cut it on TDIs rusting out back which may not be legal to sell for months if not literally years.

    How long are dealers supposed to prop up VW? You know, while the mainly family-owned firm back in Germany dodders around with no one in charge, self-destructing a bit more each day.

  • avatar

    Volkswagen brand US monthly market share in October 2014 was 2.4%.

    Last month, it fell to 2.1%.

    That’s pretty bad. The fact that VW unit sales were essentially flat while the market is booming is not good at all.

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