U.S. Volkswagen Dealers Are Poised to Revolt

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Volkswagen has been on the ropes for months as regulators, governments and the buying public rain blows in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal, but its newest foe might come from the inside — its U.S. dealer network.

American dealers are feeling abandoned by their distracted German parent and could be on the verge of open revolt, Automotive News reports.

The problems facing the dealers are many.

After investing $1 billion over the past decade to expand and upgrade the dealer network — part of Volkswagen’s plans to sell 800,000 units per year in the U.S. and become the world’s largest automaker — sales have fallen to less than half that number.

In addition to the recalls, the stop order on new and pre-owned diesel models and Volkswagen’s delay in finding a diesel fix, problems have cropped up in the supply and allocation process.

Now that the man who kept the dealers placated from the outset of the scandal is gone, an even bigger problem exists for Volkswagen management. Michael Horn, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, stepped down suddenly on March 9, leaving dealers without their biggest champion.

To have their concerns heard, Alan Brown, head of Volkswagen’s national dealer council, plans to lead a delegation to Germany this weekend to get promises on product strategy and volume in writing.

“We’ve got to stop the insanity,” said Brown, who predicts a revolt at the March 31 National Automobile Dealers Association convention if Volkswagen doesn’t respond to their satisfaction.

Volkswagen is already facing lawsuits from a range of litigants — not the least of which is the United States government — but there’s now a very real possibility that dealers could also join the fray.

Steve Kalafer, the outspoken owner of a 17-franchise dealer network, has stated that a Volkswagen dealer group is definitely planning to go after the automaker.

[Image: Volkswagen of America]

Steph Willems
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  • Polishdon Polishdon on Mar 13, 2016

    Wild thought of the day...... If VW decides to retrench to Europe, but could decide to keep their plants in case they decide to reenter market. But for what Can't just leave them empty ??? FCA is looking for someone to build 200's and Darts. Both FCA and VW are familiar with farming out production...... VW starts building 200's and Darts, maybe even using VW platforms.....

    • FreedMike FreedMike on Mar 14, 2016

      One partner's a liar and criminal, and one partner's delusional and full of crap. Sounds like a winner! As my kids would say, I ship them.

  • Kenwood Kenwood on Mar 15, 2016

    What the heck are the dealers gonna do? Stop ordering new cars? Then their customers will go elsewhere and then it's bye-bye sales.

  • JK I grew up with Dodge trucks in the US, and now live in Turin, Italy, the home of Fiat. I don't think Italians view this as an Italian company either. There are constant news articles and protests about how stalantis is moving operations out of Italy. Jeep is strangely popular here though. I think last time I looked at stelantis's numbers, Jeep was the only thing saving them from big big problems.
  • Bd2 Oh yeah, funny how Trumpers (much less the Orange Con, himself) are perfectly willing to throw away the Constitution...
  • Bd2 Geeze, Anal sure likes to spread his drivelA huge problem was Fisher and his wife - who overspent when they were flush with cash and repeatedly did things ad hoc and didn't listen to their employees (who had more experience when it came to auto manufacturing, engineering, etc).
  • Tassos My Colleague Mike B bought one of these (the 300 SEL, same champagne color) new around June 1990. I thought he paid $50k originally but recently he told me it was $62k. At that time my Accord 1990 Coupe LX cost new, all included, $15k. So today the same car means $150k for the S class and $35k-40k for the Accord. So those %0 or 62k , these were NOT worthless, Idiot Joe Biden devalued dollars, so he paid AN ARM AND A LEG. And he babied the car, he really loved it, despite its very weak I6 engine with a mere 177 HP and 188 LBFT, and kept it forever. By the time he asked me to drive it (to take him to the dealer because his worthless POS Buick Rainier "SUV" needed expensive repairs (yes, it was a cheap Buick but he had to shell out thousands), the car needed a lot of suspension work, it drove like an awful clunker. He ended up donating it after 30 years or so. THIS POS is no different, and much older. Its CHEAPSKATE owner should ALSO donate it to charity instead of trying to make a few measly bucks off its CARCASS. Pathetic!
  • RHD The re-paint looks like it was done with a four-inch paintbrush. As far as VWs go, it's a rebadged Seat... which is still kind of a VW, made in Mexico from a Complete Knock-Down kit. 28 years in Mexico being driven like a flogged mule while wearing that ridiculous rear spoiler is a tough life, but it has actually survived... It's unique (to us), weird, funky (very funky), and certainly not worth over five grand plus the headaches of trying to get it across the border and registered at the local DMV.