It's Only Getting Going, but the Volkswagen Atlas Is Already One of VW's Top Sellers

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
its only getting going but the volkswagen atlas is already one of vws top sellers

June 2017 was only the Volkswagen Atlas’s first full month on sale in the United States, but the Atlas, still ramping up inventory, already accounts for more than half of Volkswagen’s U.S. utility vehicle sales. In fact, the only Volkswagens that sold more often than the Atlas in June were the Jetta, Passat, and (if you count all variants together) the Golf.

2,413 units is not a terribly impressive number, although it’s stronger than what the Mitsubishi Outlander, Ford Flex, Mazda CX-9, and Volkswagen’s two other utility vehicles managed last month. But the rate at which Volkswagen is building the Atlas at the company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, assembly plant suggests dealers are only beginning to see just how many copies of the Atlas they’ll soon have to sell.

Will there be buyers?

According to the Automotive News Data Center, Volkswagen’s Tennessee plant built 6,104 Atlases for North American consumption in June, the sixth month of production increases at the Tennessee plant.

Getting the Atlas to dealers and into customer hands has not been a quick process. Having built nearly 24,000 copies of the Atlas by the end of June, Atlas inventory at Cars.com shows fewer than 1,000 units.

But these are very early days for the Atlas, a vehicle on which half the load of Volkswagen’s U.S. SUV hopes rest. The Volkswagen Tiguan arrives later this year in long-awaited second-gen form, and brings with it a third row that could limit some of the Atlas up-sale potential.

The Volkswagen Touareg, meanwhile, has been dropped from Volkswagen’s lineup.

Years of apparent Volkswagen non-reaction have passed since the SUV/crossover wave began to grow in America. While the industry generates over 40 percent of its sales from utility vehicles, Volkswagen has been tied to increasingly unpopular, aging passenger cars. As a result, through the first-half of 2017, only 14 percent of the vehicles sold in Volkswagen’s U.S. showrooms were utility vehicles.

The Atlas, however, unlike the overpriced Touareg and undersized Tiguan, sits in the center of the market. Despite its blocky styling — about which even some Volkswagen insiders were decidedly unhappy — the Atlas has a measure of mainstream appeal the Touareg and first Tiguan could never dream of. Given the anti-Volkswagen tide that recently swept across America, the lack of built-in loyalty for an all-new nameplate, and the slow inventory ramp-up, the Atlas’s early numbers bode well.

Now that the Atlas is being built in consequential numbers, we expect to see far more significant U.S. Atlas sales figures, and soon. If not, it’ll be obvious that Volkswagen’s production is not running parallel to demand, and all the more obvious that Volkswagen of America can’t even produce significant volume in one of the United States’ hottest categories.

[Images: Volkswagen]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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  • JK43123 JK43123 on Jul 26, 2017

    At least it has a name you can pronounce. .

  • Brettc Brettc on Jul 27, 2017

    The new Tiguan looks good too. Local dealer had 3 of them on the lot on Sunday. I don't think I could buy one because of the fuel economy (or lack thereof) but I think they'll probably sell okay. The better warranty will help both the Atlas and Tiguan.

  • Kosmo Short bed? That's it?! Ranger becomes the only option if you want an actual truck bed?!
  • Probert There's something wrong with that chart. The 9 month numbers for Tesla, in the chart, are closer to Tesla's Q3 numbers. They delivered 343,830 cars in q3 and YoY it is a 40% increase. They sold 363,830 but deliveries were slowed at the end of the quarter - no cars in inventory. For the past 9 months the total sold is 929,910 . So very good performance considering a major shutdown for about a month in China (Covid, factory revamp). Not sure if the chart is also inaccurate for other makers.
  • ToolGuy "...overall length grew only fractionally, from 187.6” in 1994 to 198.7” in 1995."Something very wrong with that sentence. I believe you just overstated the length by 11 inches.
  • ToolGuy There is no level of markup on the Jeep Wrangler which would not be justified or would make it any less desirable [perfectly inelastic demand, i.e., 'I want one']. Source: My 21-year-old daughter.
  • ToolGuy Strong performance from Fiat.
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