It's All Hands On Deck for Volkswagen's US Alltrack Launch

Mark Stevenson
by Mark Stevenson
its all hands on deck for volkswagens us alltrack launch

Updated with details on all-wheel drive being standard equipment for Alltrack.

Volkswagen of America needs a winner as it reels from the ongoing diesel emissions scandal, and its forthcoming Alltrack — a jacked-up, all-wheel-drive version of the SportWagen — is hopefully just the ticket.

As Volkswagen prepares to launch the new model on American shores, it’s all hands on deck for the German automaker as it sends representatives from its internal training department to every single dealership in the United States.

“It is not at all unusual for us to send out Academy sales and product trainers to all of our dealerships to support a launch. Considering this is our big launch for the year, we would allocate resources to make this happen,” said Volkswagen of America representative Mark Gillies in an email to TTAC.

While it isn’t unusual to put this much effort into a model’s launch, Volkswagen has a lot riding on Alltrack.

For starters, Alltrack is the first new product to launch in U.S. — refreshed Passat aside — since the diesel emissions scandal effectively wiped out one-fifth of Volkswagen’s U.S. sales volume.

Additionally, the SportWagen derivative represents a shift in product focus for Volkswagen.

“Of course, Alltrack is important. It is the harbinger for our coming all-wheel-drive/SUV product drive,” said Gillies. “Also, the dealers are really excited about this car. So are we, because Subaru has had this space to themselves for a while.”

That space: jacked-up wagons with body cladding.

Subaru has marketed the Outback crossover successfully — wildly so — even during the doldrums of the recession. The Alltrack’s launch will prove whether Volkswagen can capitalize on the same formula in a record-setting sales environment, especially now that Volkswagen can’t play its high-efficiency trump card due to a pending technical fix for its 2.0-liter diesel engines.

As important as Alltrack is for Volkswagen as a whole, its launch will be very different north of the border.

Volkswagen Canada, which has been quite successful selling the Golf and its derivatives, won’t be sending trainers to each and every dealer in the country. As Volkswagen Canada representative Thomas Tetzlaff explained by phone, Canadian dealers are already intimately familiar with the Golf Sportwagon because the model is responsible for a greater percentage of Volkswagen Canada’s overall sales.

“There’s nothing new for dealers” with regards to Alltrack, said Tetzlaff, as the model is more-or-less a trim atop the Sportwagon ladder that uses the company’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system shared with other products.

Yet, just like in the United States, Volkswagen is dealing with the same emissions scandal and product shift in Canada. Volkswagen will also launch a new, yet-unnamed, three-row SUV and a longer Tiguan in the coming months, which the company needs to be successful in markets ga-ga for crossovers and SUVs. Expect Volkswagen on both sides of the border to put massive effort behind those vehicles.

Back to the Alltrack in the United States, Gillies says the vehicle’s launch is all perfectly normal operating procedure for the automaker.

“This is not beyond the usual order of business.”

The 2017 Alltrack launches with just a single engine: the 1.8-liter turbocharged “TSI” four-cylinder powerplant, which develops 170 horsepower and 199 lbs-ft of torque. First-run Alltracks will be equipped solely with Volkswagen’s six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. 4Motion all-wheel drive will be standard, and a six-speed manual transmission will arrive later in 2017 in the United States.

Volkswagen officially launches the Alltrack next month.

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2 of 52 comments
  • Edgarof323 Edgarof323 on Aug 22, 2016

    It is interesting that Mr Tetzlaff( formerly Mr. TDI Canada) of VW Canada is available by phone to promote the new Alltrack when he is invisible and unavailable to the 10000 owners of Canadian TDI Dieselgate vehicles waiting impatiently for VW Canada to do the right thing by their Canadian customers.

  • BrunoT BrunoT on Aug 26, 2016

    Who would rather have this boddy cladding and raised suspension than 1. A more powerful engine? 2. A sport suspension option for the wagon? 3. AWD in the wagon?

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