By on May 2, 2016

2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

They’re on a little break right now, but Volkswagen plans to saunter back to America’s door, flowers and chocolates in hand.

As the diesel emissions scandal plods along to its buyback conclusion, the automaker plans to woo U.S. buyers with desirable products and a less confusing brand strategy, Automotive News reports.

Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess told reporters in Germany last week that the U.S. was still a target market primed for growth, but first the company must convince those buyers that it has changed its ways, and that it’s ready for commitment.

“We believe that the USA has in fact the greatest potential for Volkswagen worldwide in the next decade,” Diess said, adding, “naturally not in the near future, since we are starting from zero in the U.S.”

To counter a sales slide, Volkswagen is planning a portfolio stocked with the SUVs and crossovers Americans love, and which happen to be very lucrative. An American-built three-row SUV and a midsize SUV similar to the T-Prime concept are among the products planned for the U.S. market, but that’s just part of the strategy.

The brand spent a good part of the last decade confusing buyers on what type of company it really was — premium, plebeian, a little of both? — so that needs to be worked out.

Diess wants to position Volkswagen as the go-to brand of the “aspirational middle class,” which seems to mean middle class people who simply want more. There’s some on every street.

What form that repositioning will take, or how the automaker will avoid stepping on the toes of its premium brands, remains to be seen. Diess said a decision on the strategy will come in June.

As Volkswagen sleeps on its friend’s couch in the U.S., about half of the company’s $18.2 billion scandal fund will be spent buying back or fixing nearly half a million U.S. diesel models, as well as settling (or dodging) lawsuits and funding environment initiatives.

[Image: Volkswagen of America]

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43 Comments on “Volkswagen Won’t Quit the U.S. Consumer, Because Love is Stronger Than Diesel...”


  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    Audi was basically murdered in the US by the unintentional acceleration fiasco back in the 80s. (No, it wasn’t real, but _to this day_ most people don’t know that, so who cares?) They came back stronger than ever thanks to superior product. Hey, it’s always possible.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Assuming VW suddenly appeared at the door with flowers, chocolates, and a Toyota/Honda/Hyundai/Mazda/Nissan/GM/Ford-esque portfolio of SUVs and CUVs, what’s the inducement to make wary Americans actually buy them?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      [Editor is broken…]

      Here’s one answer: Take a humility lesson from Hyundai, and offer a long warranty with quality and service to back it up. The days of arrogantly promoting “German Engineering” for a premium price, while providing spotty quality are over.

      But this is a plan that requires 5-10 years of hard slogging, not a 6-month turnaround plan which includes selling TSIs instead of TDIs.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Everyone always says that, using Hyundai as an example, but literally everyone I know with a Hyundai has said they are expert at weaseling out of the warranty. I have to think that the ever-better product from Hyundai was the secret, with the warranty as a bonus, at best.

        VW still makes most of what I would buy if I had a much smaller new car budget.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          I wouldn’t know…I am at 115k and never needed to make a claim. Brakes, hoses, fluids and a timing belt/water pump at the scheduled interval. I just replaced the original battery.

        • 0 avatar
          ijbrekke

          Respectfully, I disagree with your premise here: I know LOTS of “non-car people” that point directly to the Hyundai/Kia warranty as a selling point over other brands (in other words, Honda/Toyota). While they may weasel out of warranty repairs eventually, it is still a strong bargaining chip for the initial sale.

          The better product and overall better styling also play large roles, as you pointed out.

      • 0 avatar
        raaizin

        I never understood why they never did this. Most consumers want RELIABILITY. It has improved since the 1.8t sludge days. The next step is increase the warranty to get them sold. I see many repeat buyers with Hyundai’s!!!!

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Minimum 10 yr 100K mile on the power train coupled with unlimited 5 yr bumper to bumper warranty coverage.
      Just sayin’ what could get me to even slow down for a VW dealership.

      • 0 avatar
        qfrog

        over 15 years ago VW gave a 10 year 100k powertrain warranty. I think that stopped circa the 2002 model year. If you were the original owner of the car you had powertrain coverage for 100k miles.

        The downside of providing this warranty is that it removes the motivation for some buyers to jump from one car to another every three years as they feel exposed to repair expenses. Manufacturers have to move the sheet metal from the roll to the road as often and as is possible.

      • 0 avatar
        NickS

        What Felix Hoenikker said, +1.

        @qfrog — a 10/100K VW warranty until the early aughts? Which car specifically, ’cause that would have been some secret unadvertised special deal that no-one I know of ever heard of.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          My ’02 Golf TDI had the 10yr/100K warranty on the oily bits, was the last year for it. Bumper-to-bumper was 50K. Pretty sure that warranty was on all their cars in the US for ~’00-’02.

          • 0 avatar
            Ubermensch

            My ’01 Passat 1.8T was 2/24k B2B and 10/100 PT. That lousy B2B warranty spoke volumes about what VW knew about their awful quality.

        • 0 avatar
          87 Morgan

          My 98’TDI was 2/24k B2B and 10/100 P.T

    • 0 avatar

      It is a German engineering that makes VW unique and desirable, don’t you understand? Some people buy only German cars and if VW is not available they will go for the next cheapest German car. I know a guy who went bankrupt leasing Mercedes every two-three year, two of them about $1300 a month. It was like addiction. But it worth it in the end because in the end you will ask yourself – did I live productive and meaningful life?

  • avatar

    I just got back from Colorado testing VW concepts/ future vehicles.

    The redesigned Tiguan was awesome – with 3 row seating (similar to the 1st generation SRX) – and a design based on a prototype that has a 1.7-L TSI engine and a roofline of glossy Black plastic.

    The new Golf is a lot like an Audi inside.

    VW should quit Diesel and go straight to PHEV.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    VW can over come this because plenty of companies screw up, F up and cheat and if they bring what folks want they will sell cars, right now they have some good products that it seems the US does not want a lot of IE Golf and GTI, say what you want about them their cars are good to drive , according to CR and others in the middle of reliability and offer something you can not get in to many places, a good ride, good interior and decently priced and a wagon as well, which most of the US does not want. When the decision comes with what to do with my TDI wagon I have no idea what I will replace it with, nothing really compares to it.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    I always got a chuckle out of the posters who claimed to know VW was going to exit the US market forever as a result of dieselgate. They aren’t Peugeot, they are fighting for the crown of largest global automaker and they need North America to help win it.

    As to strategy, obviously a slogan boasting about German engineering is now forever tainted. Focus on being an affordable European that’s fun to drive. Offer a better warranty.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Stack up competitive SUVs and CUVs, then slap a serious warranty on them. I’d caution against offering too much cash on the hood, as though it might move metal off the lot, it wouldn’t help much to bolster brand perception (or resale). Too bad, as I would have loved to seen cars like the Polo GTi and Scirocco land here, but that has a snowball’s chance of happening now. And diesel (for now) is likely a non-starter, though my boss is lamenting what to do with his Passat diesel…he loves how it drives and the real-world fuel economy it gets, but is wondering if he’ll take the buy out (and then what to get to replace it, if so).

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Feh! American’s bought their cars when they were known to be unreliable POSes, why would we not buy them after they lied about a bunch of cars most people weren’t interested in anyway?

    We have no morals. Lower the price by 15% and you can pretty much do whatever you want.

    Time heals all. VW used to be associated with the Nazis and Mitsubishi used to be associated with the Pearl Harbor and the War in the Pacific. In the grand scheme of things Dieselgate will amount to nothing.

    • 0 avatar
      blppt

      I think its actually Subaru that has more in common with the Pearl Harbor vehicles than Mitsubishi Auto. Fuji Heavy Industries, IIRC.

      • 0 avatar
        marcr

        Mitsubishi built the A6M “Zero” fighters, which were indeed used in the Pearl Harbor attack. Nakajima B5M bombers did the bulk of the damage, using torpedoes and armor piercing bombs. Nakajima was forced to dissolve after the war, as it was strictly an aircraft company. Former Nakajima managers and engineers later started Fuji Heavy Industries (corporate parent of Subaru) when Japan was once again permitted to manufacture aircraft. The third type of aircraft used in the attack were Aichi D3A dive bombers. Aichi now makes engines and transmissions for Nissan.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        Mitsubishi made the Zero, Japan’s principal fighter plane. They were used at Pearl Harbor, and throughout the war.

        • 0 avatar
          blppt

          “Mitsubishi built the A6M “Zero” fighters, which were indeed used in the Pearl Harbor attack. Nakajima B5M bombers did the bulk of the damage, using torpedoes and armor piercing bombs. Nakajima was forced to dissolve after the war, as it was strictly an aircraft company.”

          Exactly—and IIRC today’s automotive division of Mitsubishi has nothing in common with that original aircraft manufacturer. I also seem to recall that the electronics Mitsubishi of today might have had something to do with those Pearl Harbor planes, but I could be wrong. And again, IIRC, Mitsubishi electronics also confusingly has nothing to do with Mitsubishi auto.

          Granted, they might have chosen a different company name, but oh well.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Yep, Mitsubishi made the Zero, and it was a tin can.

          Not much has changed.

          • 0 avatar
            Testacles Megalos

            Most of us are descended from peoples who tried to exterminate other groups, tortured, maimed and were just generally bad boys and girls. Nazis vs. The Emporer vs. The Spanish Inquisition vs. The Crusades vs the vikings vs…….. this is the way people are and always have been. It’s really quite amazing that events of the past 75 years have transpired that we can have these electronic conversations rather than existing only as radioactive post-incineration dust.
            I once had a good friend whose parents didn’t like me because I drove a VW. Of course they had numbers tattooed on them by Hitler’s goons, so they had their point of view. However I also had a simple car that was fun, cheap to run, and easily fixed, in an era where Detroit iron was none of the above.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I still want a GTI PP 6MT 5dr for me and a new Tiguan for my wife. Say what you want about the company but they make awesome cars for good money when they put their minds to it.

  • avatar
    swiftfox4

    Agree with seth1065 and threer. I miss the AWD of a Subaru for getting to snow bowls but for a daily driver for an 85-mile daily commute, comfort, 88,000 miles of no problems, and one stop per week for gas, a Subie will be a comedown from the TDI. I’m hoping they sweeten the pot enough for a base GTI.

  • avatar
    multicam

    Anecdotally, every VW owner I’ve talked to here in Hawaii has been completely unaware of dieselgate, all five of them. They all own gas-powered versions.

    My friend back home, a TDI owner, says he’s going to take the buyback and never look back… yet his dad, an Italian cardiologist who came to the U.S. about 25 years ago, insists on buying VW and just purchased a Tiguan for his wife.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I just logged 7.5 hours behind the wheel of a well trimmed rentsl Passat 1.8TSI SE (adaptive cruise, sunroof, heated pleather, etc) driving out to K.C. Let me tell you, I was mightily impressed. Perfect car for the job in terms of good highway manners with a comfortable yet stable ride, good nvh suppression, firm but comfortable seats. Fantastic forward and side visibility, rear is average. Radar cruise control worked great and was a real revelation to a Luddite like me. That motor is a peach. I complained on here about the wheezy 1.6EB in a fusion SE that I got barely 30 mpg in with pretty staid 72mph driving. I was floored by this VW mill. An indicated 38mpg with 400+ miles of 75-80 mph cruising, and a very satisfying torque curve that lets this thing very calmly and smoothly get up to speed. DSG was also well tuned, especially when accelerating with a bit of vigor. My one complaint is that low speed responsiveness around town seemed laggy. No idea if that is turbo lag, throttle mapping, or the dsg being a bit slow. Lastly it looks very handsome in white with a bit if chrome gingerbread and the 18 (?) Inch multispoke wheels. I’m a Toyonda buyer if ever there was one but if I was looking for a short term fling with warranty coverage, one of these passats would be a top pick.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      Fairly sure that Passat has the Aisin 6 speed slush box not a DSG.

      Based on my experience with a 2.5L Jetta, the throttle response is just a software tuning thing to smooth out throttle input. If you put the transmission into manual or sport mode it goes away with the more responsive setting. I’m not sure if the 1.8T Passat is the same, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Right you are, and that is encouraging from a reliability and servicing perspective. It really must be s software issue. My fiance’s Camry with an aisin 6 is nowhere as jumpy or befuddled on city streets.

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      VAG makes really nice 4 cylinder turbo gassers. They are pretty smooth, reasonably powerful, and don’t fall completely on their face at the top end. That being said, at least in my brief experience, their computed fuel economy is terribly inaccurate. Even accounting for the better mileage, the percent error is extremely high compared to my Mustang or other cars we’ve had. My GTI is routinely off by several MPG. If my Mustang was even off by half a mile per gallon it would be an anomaly. Also, the fuel gauge seems to be living in an alternate reality for the first 8th of any tank. I’ve gone 20 miles and you already drank 1/8th of at tank? Sure…

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Maybe that will be a suggestion I make to my boss (he of the diesel Passat dilemma). He loves his TDI (mostly the mileage he gets out of it), but is contemplating the buy-out/rebate offer.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        A further mpg update: averaging 39.5 mpg on the return leg. Almost exclusively with the adaptive cruise set to 76mph. This thing just gobbles up highway miles. 600+ mile range.

    • 0 avatar
      Whatnext

      Nice to hear a positive review. Ad as a driver you didn’t get to enjoy one Passat’s best feature, the incredibly roomy back seat. It’s like a limo.

  • avatar
    ldl20

    Step 1 in the Resurrection Tour:

    Take over Cadillac’s turf by posing new Alltrak in trendy SoHo district of NYC! Not that that’s worked for Cadillac, yet.

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