By on April 15, 2016

Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept

More autonomy is coming to North American Volkswagen operations, thanks in part to dealer protests calling for exactly that.

Today, Volkswagen established a new North American Region (NAR) encompassing Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, headed by no-longer-interim Volkswagen Group of America president and CEO Hinrich J. Woebcken (who replaced departing CEO Michael Horn in March).

The move allows North America more flexibility as to the volume of certain models and where they are sold. The automaker’s U.S. dealer network began revolting against their head office last month, accusing top brass of ignoring their pleas for product reassurances in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal.

Brand chief Herbert Diess failed to fully placate dealers at a meet-up earlier this month, especially those looking for reparations, but did commit to boosting production of popular models to stimulate U.S. sales.

By setting up the NAR, Volkswagen lessens the need for decisions to come from across the Atlantic, and allows North American dealers and regional officials to feel more in charge of their own destiny. All regional activities will be aligned through the NAR, including product development, procurement and production.

“The establishment of the North American Region provides the U.S., Mexico and Canada more freedom and more responsibility than ever before,” Diess said in a statement.

The NAR will operate with a board structure, with Woebcken at the helm.

“With the new structure of the North American Region we will be empowered to make the decisions to bring the vehicles that the consumers in the market are demanding,” stated Woebcken, adding that when a region calls for more strong-selling product, they’ll get it.

Back at home, Diess is still facing opposition from organized labor over a cost-saving efficiency plan and ongoing rumors of layoffs.

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28 Comments on “Volkswagen Hands North America the Car Keys, Extends its Curfew...”

  • avatar

    Not sure if this will help, VW corp still controls the purse strings , so VW USA may want a SUV yesterday but if VW corp does not sign off on the $$$$ no SUV for the USA.

    BTW VW still waiting on what you will or will not do with the TDI mess

    xoxo Uncle Sam

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Captain Smith to Titanic band: “You may place your chairs anywhere you like.”

  • avatar

    I fail to see how this new arrangement will help do anything at all. VAG is headed for bankruptcy. You can’t create anything when you’re bankrupt.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr. Orange

      So a European car company that has a few 100,000 employees in Europe that is also partial owned by a European state will go bankrupt in Europe.

      When was the last time a major European car company went bankrupt?

      • 0 avatar

        It is the same thing as saying that GM is heading to bankruptcy. It can never happen.

        • 0 avatar

          There’s also the fact that VW has several brands that are currently minting cash, like Porsche, Audi, and Bentley. They’ve already sold like 3000 $300k SUVs at the latter brand.

          • 0 avatar

            Assuming Porsche, Audi and Bentley are all profitable, what does that mean in the big picture? Even if they each generate a whole billion dollars in excess taxable cash, they themselves don’t need to stay healthy/reinvest and can fork it straight over to VW, it’s still a drop in the bucket of what VW needs.

  • avatar

    More like Volkswagen friend spaces VWoA. There is exactly zero chance this new unit has actual autonomy or control over its purse strings. This is quite literally rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, I appreciate the desire for hyperbole here, but let us recognize the difference between literal and figurative. E.g., “literally rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” means one is actually rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

      VW NAR, please consider the Scirocco for USA.

      • 0 avatar

        Literally. Figuratively. Either way, they’re hosed.

      • 0 avatar

        The Scirocco is probably a casualty of Dieselgate along with the new Beetle. They need to focus on models that will actually make money, like the new Tiguan, bigger CUV, Jetta, Passat, etc.

        • 0 avatar

          The Scirocco was never coming to the U.S. It would have cannibalized the already marginal Golf sales.

          • 0 avatar

            That’s not why, or how it works. If both models come from the same company, then it’s a win-win for VW. Anyhow, very few would pick the Scirocco over the Golf, because 1) it’s a less practical style 2) it costs way more.

  • avatar

    That’s nice, making plans for the future, but what about the 700/800K cars with the diesel engines (my car included) that they keep sweeping down the autostraad with no fix in site? Clean up the mess first or there will be no future. You’ve already lost me, so do what you like.

  • avatar

    “By setting up the NAR, Volkswagen lessens the need for decisions to come from across the Atlantic, and allows North American dealers and regional officials to feel more in charge of their own destiny. ”

    Sounds like dealers are getting the illusion of choice.

    • 0 avatar

      This is nothing more than an additional layer, a buffer between Wolfsburg and Virginia. The honchos in Wolfsburg don’t want to hear the U.S. dealers complain, so they’ve assigned this guy to be the whipping boy.

  • avatar

    “[…] Volkswagen lessens the need for decisions to come from across the Atlantic”

    The folks in Wolfsburg are being clear: We are tired of NOT churning out all these decisions fast and furious.

    • 0 avatar

      And unless this new VWoA organization is allowed to directly make production decisions without going through the leadership in Wolfsbug, this whole exercise is academic.

  • avatar

    Wait – what Volkswagens are consumers actually demanding?

    • 0 avatar

      Apparently they’re suddenly demanding Tiguans for some bizarre reason. I don’t understand the sudden appeal but it’s VW’s only ray of hope at the moment.

      And this NAR crap will do nothing. Come on April 21st!

  • avatar

    Sure; great idea, hand the keys to the people who can hardly complete an oil change…

    Source: I took my VW to the dealer for maintenance for six years

  • avatar

    What’s the point? VW’s model lineup is antiquated and unappealing anyway. They need newer models more than anything.

    • 0 avatar

      I think the main idea is to avoid vw’s historical practice of sending european models here and having them be the wrong size and the wrong price. The tiguan is absolutely the best current example of that, also the pre-11 passats. People here might not love the Americanized sedans, but they sell more than their predecessors and exactly fit the us market definition of what that class of vehicle should be.

      A differently run company would have extended the tiguans wheelbase in the last generation as well as lowering lease rates, and probably would have felt more urgency to release follow up uv’s.

      • 0 avatar

        I suspect that the goal is also to make the response to North American markets quicker. Right now their product release schedule for the NA market is ridiculously slow with the old corporate structure.

        For example, the Mk VII Golf was a 2012 model in Europe and a 2015 model here. And the new Tiguan came out in Europe a few months ago and will probably not be out here until early 2017. And who knows when NA gets a new Passat on the new MQB architecture, while Europe has had it for like 2 years already.

        • 0 avatar

          If VW would sell a passat similar to the Euro spec one here, they would sell like hot cakes. However, VW needs to step up their game with customer service and vehicle dependability. Those 2 factors have put a damper in their sales. They need to do what Kia and Hyundai do and improve the quality of the vehicles and offer the best warranties on the market.

  • avatar

    Maybe now we can get the Polo or Up stateside

    • 0 avatar

      Sure. The iQ and Fiatsler 500 are doing so well.

      Even the Yaris, is only holding on. I HAD one, when my commute was 70 miles, round-trip. Great car for the purpose. But when the time came to sell, change of circumstance, ZERO interest. This, with a Toyota – the benchmark of resale value.

      Americans don’t like small cars. Nor Europeans, either – but they are forced into them with taxes and other government intrusions.

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