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

Mark Stevenson
by Mark Stevenson
it s all hands on deck for volkswagen s 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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  • 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?

  • SCE to AUX Good summary, Matt.I like EVs, but not bans, subsidies, or carbon credits. Let them find their own level.PM Sunak has done a good thing, but I'm surprised at how sensibly early he made the call. Hopefully they'll ban the ban altogether.
  • SCE to AUX "Having spoken to plenty of suppliers over the years, many have told me they tried to adapt to EV production only to be confronted with inconsistent orders."Lofty sales predictions followed by reality.I once worked (very briefly) for a key supplier to Segway, back when "Ginger" was going to change the world. Many suppliers like us tooled up to support sales in the millions, only to sell thousands - and then went bankrupt.
  • SCE to AUX "all-electric vehicles, resulting in a scenario where automakers need fewer traditional suppliers"Is that really true? Fewer traditional suppliers, but they'll be replaced with other suppliers. You won't have the myriad of parts for an internal combustion engine and its accessories (exhaust, sensors), but you still have gear reducers (sometimes two or three), electric motors with lots of internal components, motor mounts, cooling systems, and switchgear.Battery packs aren't so simple, either, and the fire recalls show that quality control is paramount.The rest of the vehicle is pretty much the same - suspension, brakes, body, etc.
  • Theflyersfan As crazy as the NE/Mid-Atlantic I-95 corridor drivers can be, for the most part they pay attention and there aren't too many stupid games. I think at times it's just too crowded for that stuff. I've lived all over the US and the worst drivers are in parts of the Midwest. As I've mentioned before, Ohio drivers have ZERO lane discipline when it comes to cruising, merging, and exiting. And I've just seen it in this area (Louisville) where many drivers have literally no idea how to merge. I've never seen an area where drivers have no problems merging onto an interstate at 30 mph right in front of you. There are some gruesome wrecks at these merge points because it looks like drivers are just too timid to merge and speed up correctly. And the weaving and merging at cloverleaf exits (which in this day and age need to all go away) borders on comical in that no one has a bloody clue of let car merge in, you merge right to exit, and then someone repeats behind you. That way traffic moves. Not a chance here.And for all of the ragging LA drivers get, I found them just fine. It's actually kind of funny watching them rearrange themselves like after a NASCAR caution flag once traffic eases up and they line up, speed up to 80 mph for a few miles, only to come to a dead halt again. I think they are just so used to the mess of freeways and drivers that it's kind of a "we'll get there when we get there..." kind of attitude.
  • Analoggrotto I refuse to comment until Tassos comments.