By on December 8, 2015

2015 VW Golf family

Industry-wide auto sales continued to expand in November 2015 despite a calendar quirk which shortened the selling month and a sharp 9-percent decline in passenger car volume.

At Volkswagen, however, after the scandal-ridden brand posted somewhat surprising year-over-year increases in September and October, November volume plunged 25 percent.

The loss of 7,843 sales compared with November 2014 was incurred largely by the loss of all TDI sales. In November 2014, 17 percent — or approximately 5,460 sales — were generated by vehicles with diesel engines. But Volkswagen couldn’t sell vehicles with diesel engines in November 2015.

Added to that was the transition period for the Passat, which is facelifted and refreshed for model year 2016. U.S. Passat sales plunged 60 percent to only 2,759 units in November 2015, a decline equal to 4,207 sales.

Volkswagen’s two saviors from October — the gas-only Tiguan and Golf GTI — performed better in November 2015 than in November 2014, but they couldn’t match October’s sales pace. Volkswagen set an all-time Tiguan sales record with 4,815 October sales. Tiguan volume in November jumped 88 percent to 3,907, year-over-year, but that total was down 19 percent compared with October. As for the GTI, which with 2,520 sales in October attracted more than four out of every ten Golf family buyers, sales in November grew 14 percent to 1,963 on a year-over-year basis, but slipped 22 percent compared with October.

2014 Volkswagen CC

Even cars like the upmarket CC sedan, which rose to a 14-month high in October, produced little benefit for the overall Volkswagen brand in November. CC sales last month slid 24 percent to 475, a loss of 203 sales compared with the prior month. After selling 1,508 copies of the Eos, e-Golf, and Golf R in October 2015, the trio contributed only 946 sales in November.

What happened to all the incentive-laden momentum? To put it simply, Volkswagen dealers ran out of the cars they were allowed to sell. Mid-way through November, Automotive News reported on a dealer which sold 80 Tiguans in October but only had five in stock in November. Nationwide supply at Volkswagen dealers tumbled to the lowest level in 12 months, and the little inventory dealers did possess took into account TDI models that were forced to languish in some far-flung corner of the dealer lot.

Incentives will lure buyers, particularly the Volkswagen loyalists who were offered especially tasty deals. But if consumers arrive with the intent to purchase or lease a car, and the car doesn’t exist, it’s no surprise to learn that they don’t follow through on their intent.

As a result, after October’s 0.2-percent uptick and a 14th-place finish among auto brands competing in America, Volkswagen ranked 17th among auto brands in November, 1,150 sales ahead of a rising Mazda but well back of Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lexus. Volkswagen earned 1.8 percent market share in the U.S. in November, down from 2.1 percent in October.

Elsewhere in the empire, Audi sales increased by a scant 0.4 percent to 16,700 units. Nearly one in five Audi sales was generated by the A3, which produced a 21 percent year-over-year improvement. Bentley dropped 42 percent and Lamborghini tumbled 43 percent (together they account for less than one percent of the Volkswagen Group’s U.S. volume). Because of decreased sales from every single one of its models, Porsche sales dropped five percent, a decline of 250 sales, the first year-over-year Porsche decrease since May.

As for that quirk in the calendar, November 2015 had only 23 selling days, two fewer than November 2014. Thus, while the Volkswagen brand’s volume was down 25 percent, Volkswagen’s daily selling rate was down by a somewhat less distressing 18 percent. Group-wide sales across the Volkswagen spectrum were down 15 percent, but the DSR was down 8 percent. Across the industry, Americans purchased and leased 10 percent more vehicles per selling day in November 2015 than during the same period one year ago.

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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53 Comments on “November Volkswagen USA Sales Enter Free Fall Mode...”


  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Doesn’t seem to be affecting Golf R prices as they are still asking MSRP.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, yeah…

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      Definitely not. However, as I’m strongly considering one, I’ve been checking local inventories (DC metro) frequently and there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of Rs with plenty of ’16s on lots (relatively speaking for a specialty model). I’m hoping there’s some room for at least minor negotiation in a couple of months.

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      I made my first quote request for a VW a few days ago from one of three local dealers. I hope the majority of US dealers aren’t such asshats.

      They had 9 Golf Rs listed in inventory. I inquired about one with a $39k MSRP. I know even the first shipment of 500 2015 Rs were regularly going for dealer invoice which is something like $2K under MSRP. I asked for numbers on a lease (3 year/15k mile/first months due at signing) or purchase. Their response? $736/month for the lease. $650 for 72 months to buy. And before anyone asks, I had them give me numbers based on a credit score over 800.

      I asked what residual and MF they were using on the lease since the numbers obviously seemed extremely high for a $39K car. They dodged the question completely and just said that owners keep them for a long time and only trade them in for a new R. I said I might be interested for dealer invoice and I’d finance it myself. I received a pretty nasty reply with a nice all caps section about the ‘fair price for them and their customers is MANUFACTURERS SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE’.

      I should have known not to waste my time when the first thing she told me when we spoke on the phone was that they were the only local VW dealership using ‘true MSRP’ and that other dealers were marking up cars by $3K-$4K over MSRP. I’ll have to poke around one of the other dealerships and see if she was full of crap, and see if the others actually know how to sell (I’m not even talking about the price, just the attitude and all caps nastygram idiocy).

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        Yikes. For what it’s worth, I talked to five dealers before I picked up my GTI, and their prices were all over the map – varying as much as 20% from the low to the high end. The ones that couldn’t come close to the price I was willing to pay were by far the pushiest, nastiest, and least knowledgeable.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Dealing with dealers is one thing I hate, not dread. In the end, I know how much I will pay, if they keep on coming with “what do I feed to my children”, I just ask them last time, deal or no deal? This is why I bought my last car from private owner, instead of getting new from dealer. Less headache, you know…

      • 0 avatar
        sproc

        @johnny: Wow, thanks. Discouraging but helpful. Did any of them let you test drive one or did you get the Heisman on that as well?

        • 0 avatar
          dr_outback

          We had a customer wreck a black R during a test drive. $14k worth of damage. Good times.

          • 0 avatar
            johnny_5.0

            How do you wreck a FWD biased AWD car with a safe amount of understeer dialed in from the factory during a test drive? That must have been an epic screw up.

            There was a ’13 GT Track Package I was going to buy that was totaled into a phone pole the night before I was driving to the dealership to buy it. That’s a little easier to imagine some boner getting too sideways to recover from.

        • 0 avatar
          johnny_5.0

          She called me about 5 minutes after I submitted the web quote asking me to come test drive the car. That’s when I asked for the numbers and things went down hill. After the email exchange the only thing that would have motivated me to visit that dealership would have been a chance to punch that sales woman in the twat.

          • 0 avatar
            dr_outback

            I don’t know the details. The R went over an embankment and collided on the right side against a large stone. Years ago, another customer on a test drive lost control around the same turn. The R was auctioned through Manheim. For all the smack that gets thrown around about salespeople, not many acknowledge the true drudgery and sheer terror that often comes along with peddling a manufacturer’s wares.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Ah, so you are a VWoA salesperson? Care to write up some of the inside dirt on what its like working for a VW dealer?

      • 0 avatar
        ex007

        My experience mirrors yours. In the market for a new car and strongly considered a GTI. Every dealer I visited had thrown on $500-2,500 of “add ons” to the MSRP, including the beloved VIN window etching. I asked sincerely “what the…” given the recent publicity. Their response was that’s the price.

        Not surprisingly I decided to not buy a GTI. For the life of me I don’t understand how VW dealers plan to stay in business.

        • 0 avatar
          johnny_5.0

          I don’t get it either. I’d normally feel bad for the dealers in the current fiasco, but if my experience is even remotely normal for VW dealers here in the states they can go f*ck themselves. I’m sure there are good VW dealers out there though. I’m going to reach out to the other local ones just to see if any of them are decent.

          • 0 avatar
            manny_c44

            My experience has been totally different, my VW dealer has been so nice to me that it is almost embarrassing. I mean how much warm cookies and milk do I have to refuse per visit VWoA? It’s getting ridiculous.

            I did have to walk out on negotiating a new car price, but that is just standard practice it seems. You have to dance with them for a few hours/days and then they will give you reasonable prices. Otherwise they have been really excellent. (Heritage: Parkville, MD I hear the one in Hunt Valley is even better)

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          >>Not surprisingly I decided to not buy a GTI. For the life of me I don’t understand how VW dealers plan to stay in business.<<

          Apparently by gouging on the few models where they actually have demand outstripping the limited supply.

          I do think that VW's plan to expand the TN plant will prove to be a big HUGE mistake and that the whole operation will prove abortive.

          Just as the German Union wanted.

        • 0 avatar
          dr_outback

          @28 I work as a VW service advisor. I don’t think I could handle car sales.

    • 0 avatar
      krayzie

      The carbon build up issue doesn’t seem to affect Golf R prices either. Wonder if they would ever bring the dual injection version over here.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Being a sedan-centric carmaker in a marketplace that increasingly favors crossovers is not all that good of a position to be in, even without the diesel fiasco, or should I say fiasko.

  • avatar
    zip89105

    Easy fix. Sell VW’s just above cost until the confidence is restored. Customers will be lining up and the lots will be empty. American’s, being the cheap SOB’s we can be, like a deal.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Better yet – well below cost.

      And VW had better pray auto sales don’t turn down any time soon…

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        OVERALL GLOBAL INDUSTRY auto sales, including in China, Europe and the Americas don’t turn down (b/c even at vehicles below cost, that will complicate things for their survival plans).

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      Hell, yeah! I’d risk a little German Engineering for a 12K Tiguan. Pretty little ute.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        I am wondering how they holding up over time? I remember, they used to become rattle machines after 6-7 years. the plastics inside start to look really old, scratched, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      It sounds like that is what VW has been doing, the problem is inventory- there are not enough sellable cars on the lot to maintain high sales like last month.

      Switching over to a greater % of gasoline versus diesel production takes time, you can’t decide to instantly change the mix unless you want to build cars without the engines.

  • avatar
    Prado

    Why is Passat inventory so low? They are still 14k units behind 2014 sales. I would not expect 1 good month (October) to have such a significant effect on inventory levels of a volume model. Is there a production issue?

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Volkswagen was probably clearing their inventory of 2015 Passats before the refreshed 2016 Passats hit the lots.
      http://www.motortrend.com/news/2016-volkswagen-passat-first-look-review/
      What changed is they can’t sell the 2016 TDI diesel Passats they built.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    “November 2015 had only 23 selling days, two fewer than November 2014.”

    I don’t understand this selling day number. Here car dealers are open 7 days a week. Is there someone counting the weekends not as sales days? I’d imagine weekends are the largest sale days since people have time to buy a car.

    • 0 avatar
      frankev

      I was curious about this as well. One also must account for state-by-state differences. In Illinois, for example, dealers can only operate from Monday through Saturday per state law.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      I’d argue that car dealers open 7 days a week (at least their sales department) is the exception, not the rule. Most are closed on Sundays.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        I would argue (though this may not be true) that the closed-on-Sundays law has less to do with lingering religious pressures and more that people like having one day out of the week where they can go through a car lot in broad daylight and not get approached by a salesman.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          I would presume that Sunday closing laws are favored by smaller retailers that are relieved that they are able to take a day off without feeling pressure from their competition to stay open.

        • 0 avatar
          sproc

          I don’t think the religious reasons hold nearly as much weight as the dealers themselves appreciating the legislated day off, with no one outlet having a competitive advantage. I imagine this breaks down in multi-state metro areas. A great example is that both RI and Mass had no Sunday alcohol sales for years, and most of the stores liked it that way. Once Mass allowed Sunday sales, the pressure on RI to change due to consumer choice, missed profits and public safety (people driving further for their booze) was immense.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      seems wasteful to not let people buy cars on a day they would have time with their family etc. I’m sure dealers and their strong lobby would like to be open on weekends.

      Drzhivago138: if people didn’t want to deal with sales people, they could come at night.. or not come to dealers. or tell the sales staff to f… off. no need for a law.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        No need for a law, no. I never said I supported or opposed the current setup. What I said was: there are people who want to look at cars in broad daylight, and “don’t like to cause a fuss” (usually the same type of people who would never use a computer to look for a car). I described a certain scenario and then you said, “well, it would just work if you didn’t use that scenario.”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I wouldn’t reward VW by buying their products, even at a steep discount. Besides, their future in the US is about as solid as Mitsubishi’s.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    I like the Golf, but the $29K 1.8T SEL has the lease price of a $35K car. It just makes no sense. I’d buy it, but it’s a VW, so again, makes no sense.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Interesting how the Tiguan has, blossomed, so late in its model life, as VW’s fastest-growing seller. After so, so many of us here have pronounced it– all together now — “uncompetitive.” I imagine that a lot of folks who wanted a TDI Sportswagen had a sudden change of heart, and the Tiggy was sitting there to offer them a reasonable alternative.

    Or perhaps we’re finally learning to love the Tiguan. I’m seeing more and more of them around Denver. Three years ago when I got mine, I made a sport of counting Tiguan sightings. Consistently, two or three would show up during a long days’s drive. Today, I can expect to see two in the first hour on the road. Still not Honda or Toyota’s mass presence, but I never wanted that. Too hard to find your own car in the parking lot.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    This has as much to do with lack of inventory for gas vehicles as it has to do with TDI. The Passat, for example, has been on a sell-down ahead of the rollout of the refreshed 2016 model.

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      The Passat I believe. Inventories for the other models aren’t nearly as bad. Autotrader shows the following for S/SE/SEL trims of new 2015/2016 models:

      Jetta: 10,837
      Golf: 5,376

      The Golf inventory looks tiny compared to something like a Ford Focus (32,572 for all trims), but Ford also seems to have about 5X the number of dealerships here. And once you add in the GTI the inventory grows to 9,670. So lack of inventory certainly isn’t the big problem for the other models.

      • 0 avatar
        Jimal

        Tell that to the dealers who didn’t have cars to sell. Perhaps it is a problem of where the cars are, but inventory was a very real problem last month with the Passat, but especially with the Tiguan.

  • avatar
    MBella

    I plan on going to some local VW dealers and kicking some tires on New Years Eve. I’m pretty satisfied with my current automotive situation, but I’ll see if they can make me an offer I can’t refuse. They should be pretty desperate to wrap up their year by then.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Uh-huh. I went to my local VW dealership—I have reason to believe that my friend’s dog ate one the Golf SportWagen’s pricey smart keys after it fell out of my pocket, and so needed another one—and they were so low on desirable inventory, it was ridiculous.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I’m still hoping for the $0 down/$199 per month/12k a year/36 month lease deal on a wagon or Tiguan so I can still haul rescue pups. Of course, there is also a 2014 Jetta S locally for sale for under $13k that has me interested…

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    I would be curious to know how VW’s Canadian sales are doing, since the disel buy-in seemed to be higher here.

  • avatar
    PriusV16

    Interesting to hear that VW dealers seem to have a tendency towards arrogant behaviour opposite their (potential) customers.

    Even here in Germany, VW dealers are known for their condescending attitude. The difference between the U S of A and the VW homeland is that the typical German car buyer will be willing to put up with that c*** because hey …. it’s a Volkswagen, right? Superior German engineering and stuff!

    Seems to be ingrained in their corporate culture, this whole Houlier Than Thou attitude. Then again, the higher the horse they sit on, the harder the fall when they tumble off said high horse…..

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