By on August 9, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan - Image: VolkswagenAfter steady declines even prior to the diesel emissions scandal of nearly two years ago, Volkswagen of America took another serious hit in 2016 — the best year on record for the auto industry. Compared with 2012, Volkswagen volume sank by 85,000 sales last year.

But by the end of 2016, Volkswagen’s U.S. sales volume was beginning to rise again. True, that rise was in comparison with a true low — Volkswagen sales in the final one-sixth of 2016 were up 22 percent year-over-year but were 17-percent lower than in the same period of 2012 — but Volkswagen was bouncing back.

The bounce back continued through the first half of 2017, with Volkswagen sales through June up 8 percent despite the market’s 2-percent downturn.

Perhaps July was just a blip on the radar. But Volkswagen’s eight-month streak of improvement screeched to a halt last month as the U.S. auto industry reported its most significant losses of the year, and as Volkswagen’s new SUV lineup continues to dip its toes in American waters.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas - Image: VolkswagenThe Tennessee-built Volkswagen Atlas, according to Volkswagen, is still ramping up production. Though Automotive News reports 23,950 were built by the end of June, only 5,329 copies of the Atlas had been sold in the U.S. by the end of July. In fact, July’s U.S. sales total fell to 1,306 units, the lowest-volume month to date; 46-percent lower than June.

But it is early days for the Atlas, and even earlier days for the new Tiguan. While sales of the old Tiguan plunged 56 percent to 1,484 units — remember, old Tiguan will live on — sales of the new new Tiguan totalled 593 units in its first month on the market.

Even with the discontinued Volkswagen Touareg reporting a 54-percent jump to 475 units and new products coming onstream, Volkswagen’s SUV/crossover volume rose only 5 percent to a modest 3,858 units in July, not nearly enough to overcome Volkswagen’s passenger car losses.2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack - Image: VolkswagenThe good news for Volkswagen? The brand’s SUV/crossover volume will surely rise. The second bit of good news? Volkswagen’s car lineup isn’t losing sales nearly as quickly as the car market overall. July’s 7-percent drop among Volkswagen’s cars was nothing compared to the 15-percent drop experienced by the U.S. auto industry’s overall car sector. Year-to-date, while U.S. car sales are down 12 percent overall, Volkswagen’s car lineup is actually up 7 percent, boosted by wagon volume.

42 percent of the Golfs sold in America during the first seven months of 2017 were SportWagens and Alltracks. With modest Beetle and Passat rebounds and only a slight Jetta downturn, Volkswagen is the rare breed in 2017 to produce overall gains because of cars, rather than in spite of them.

Sustaining such a quirky growth strategy is not tenable, of course, not in these prevailing market conditions. But Volkswagen intends to sell a much greater number of utility vehicles in the near future. And if Golf wagons keep selling in decent numbers? You won’t hear us complaining.

[Images: Volkswagen of America]

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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28 Comments on “Eight Consecutive Months of Volkswagen Sales Improvement Ends in July 2017 – Crossover Volume Still Very Low...”


  • avatar
    jeanbaptiste

    “42 percent of the Golfs sold in America during the first seven months of 2017 were SportWagens and Alltracks.”

    What % (if you know) were GTIs?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2014/10/volkswagen-golf-gti-sales-figures-usa.html

      • 0 avatar
        jeanbaptiste

        Thanks! Didn’t know that was what his site was about.

        Looking through the data, I couldn’t validate the 42% claim as it doesn’t seem to break out sportwagen sales. Looks like 41,625 golfs, 12480 GTis, 7581 all tracks. (not that anyone cared)

        • 0 avatar
          jeanbaptiste

          couldn’t edit anymore. But it appears that 30% of all golfs (GTI, R and normal golf) are GTI’s.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Which means 30% of Golf owners are having a ridiculously good time…

            I want a GTI. Bad.

          • 0 avatar

            “Which means 30% of Golf owners are having a ridiculously good time…”

            It also means 30% of Golf owners are enjoying an unscheduled visit to the dealer.

            Sidenote: I can’t believe that the GTI, one of the most basic formulas for a car, is *still* not reliable.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Depends on how you define “unreliable.”

            Unreliable in the Yugo/Hyundai Excel/Volare/X-car (or Golf MK4) vein? No way.

            Somewhat more trouble prone than a Corolla? That’s a safe bet.

  • avatar
    manny_c44

    I just saw shiny brand new red golf wagon this morning and it is a nice car, gotta say.

    (Also you can get one with 4MOTION and a stick!)

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Seems the diesel scandal has not damaged VW at all in terms of sales, which goes to show how much most consumers care about vehicle emissions. Yet I wonder how much of this recent growth is simply push forward sales caused by the early “trade-in” of all those dirty VW diesels.

    • 0 avatar
      jeanbaptiste

      I know two people who traded in VW/Audi TDI. Both stayed in the Audi/VW family with replacements. I know that the deep discounts on the VW side is what got my sale last year.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      You’re absolutely correct – a sizable chunk of VW’s YTD sales have come from former TDI owners who got bought out, and ended up chucking in their cars for new VWs. When I bought my Jetta last November, this was just ramping up, and the sales staff confirmed it for me. They were happy as hell about the TDI disaster, if truth be know.

      And they’re giving away Jettas, which explains why their sales have stayed pretty stable. They sure gave me a ridiculous deal on mine, and I believe it’s gotten better since.

      It’ll be interesting to see how the brand does now that the TDI dead cat bounce is largely over. I have a feeling they’ll be OK with the new Atlas and Tiguan (which looks VERY nice, BTW).

  • avatar
    brettc

    My local dealer is filled with loaded Alltracks. I think VW actually made a smart decision to bring that to the U.S. I wish they’d break out regular Golf wagons vs Alltrack sales, but they don’t do that.

    If I bought another VW, I’d be happy with a FWD Golf wagon with heated seats and a manual, but unfortunately that’s not a thing. :(

    Maybe for the refreshed 2018 model they’ll offer a Wolfsburg Golf wagon that will offer a manual and heated seats.

  • avatar
    Rengaw

    Our local VW dealer here in northwest Washington said the extended Golfs were the hottest selling vehicles going. I drove a Wolfsburg Golf and can’t say I ever enjoyed a test drive more. The comfort, handling, and engine power were all to my liking. So, I am seriously considering a front drive Sportwagen for my next vehicle. My only pause is over VW’s reliability history. I don’t understand how VW can engineer such quality vehicles and have such reliability issues. Is it the Japanese company’s attention to detail is what makes the difference?

    The Northwest is just nuts over Subaru Outbacks. They are everywhere. This may have something to do with The Golf wagon selling so well here.

    And, yes, the Jetta can be had for a song. Prowling the Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and other dealerships locally, nothing can match the Jetta for a “good deal.” Is VW trying to make amends for the diesel goof up?

    • 0 avatar
      manny_c44

      I think it’s basically that VW engineers a car to feel a certain way, whereas the Japanese engineer for reliability and it feels the way it does.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      I worked on the first generation power lift-gate systems. We were proud and excited to present our system to Toyota. They listened attentively, and thanked us politely. They told to send our warranty data in 5 years, and they would contact us if they were still interested.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        My Uncle worked quality control for a steel galvanizing facility (U.S. & Japanese joint venture) in Ohio. Chrysler came out, toured the facility and inspected the finished product. They selected it as “exterior quality steel”. Toyota came in a few weeks later and inspected product within the same specifications.

        Toyota deemed it “interior quality steel” and not up to the standards of what they used for exterior stampings.

    • 0 avatar
      lon888

      Speaking as an engineer, current GTI owner and long term Honda owner, the problem with VW is its materials and complexity. Honda gets its reliability by using strict quality control, simplicity and high quality materials. VW makes things overly complex (example- my Honda engines have a single timing chain while my GTI has three – four if you count the little belt required to drive the water pump). Honda uses lots of metal components in the engine compartment while VW uses plastic. these plastic items become very brittle very quickly and will fail quite easily. I couldn’t believe it when I looked closely at the clutch master cylinder in the VW and it was plastic. VW does have very good exterior panels that are made from high quality high-strength steel while Honda uses high-tensile steel. However Honda is now switching over to high-strength steel like many other car manufacturers. VW interiors are absolutely beautiful when new but don’t hold up well in areas where summer temps are 100+ (like here in Oklahoma). Honda interiors hold up much better and also Honda paint jobs are much more durable than VW’s. The number of rock chips in my 6 year old VW is staggering. Most of all the biggest problem with VW’s is their dealer network – virtually every VW dealer are total asshats. They think since their cars are German they are like BMW or Audi. When I do decide to buy another car , I’m going back to Honda – my experience with VW has not been positive at all.

  • avatar
    MatadorX

    Why do all you guys keep buying VW’s garbage? No seriously. Do you have any idea how little they care about the consumer?

    I work for them in logistics. You do realize a full 10% of their Puebla built product arrives badly damaged/vandalized, necessitating significant repair costs before the units can be resold to you, the unwitting consumer, as a “brand new” car with a “clean” title. I’m sorry but no vehicle with 10k in body damage with 4 miles on it should be sold as a clean title. Yet last year alone over 2500 of them were.

    The only way I sleep at night knowing this, is the fact that their buyers went out of their way to support a company blatantly in violation of US law, with one of the worst reliability track records in the USA. They could have bought a Toyota or a Honda, but they choose willingly to give VW their money. Despite what consumer reports and every other reliability indicator said of their products. I have zero sympathy. I also own 3 Toyota’s.

    • 0 avatar
      manny_c44

      Well I guess if a full 10% of the cars arrive that way you would be willing to share the dataset with us right?

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      That’s got to be maddening and heartbreaking for those who actually give a damn about the reputation. I feel for them. I gave my all and was flushed along with thousands of my friends when 5 of 6 production plants in our division were off-shored to China, and engineering design was off-shored to India.

  • avatar
    e46 Touring

    I just rented the all-new Tiguan in Germany for 9 days, a turbodiesel 6-speed manual. It drove very nicely, was roomy, and very fuel-efficient. However, the front seats were more uncomfortable than any I have ever experienced. The Kia Ceed station wagon I rented in France the week before had much more supportive seats. Most troubling of all with the VW was the burned-out corner lamp on a vehicle with just over 6000 kilometers on the clock. I wish VW well, but I don’t think they’ve overcome their quality issues.

  • avatar
    DonInYYC

    We are shopping for a CUV and shortlisted the CX-5 GT, Sportage SX Turbo and the Tiguan, which has finally arrived. OMG, the pricing! We need AWD, adaptive cruise and collision brake avoidance thingee which bumps our purchase over $44K Cdn before PDI and tax. The Mazda GT is $39k and the Sportage $41k ALL IN. Why would I buy a Tiggy? The Alltrac looks like a better buy if you need to stay within the VW family. Even gently used Q5’s can be had for $45k here.

  • avatar
    loopy55

    They just can’t build the Atlas and Tiguan fast enough- they are ramping up production slowly to avoid any production issues. Its really pointless looking at the sales volume right now. Also they are transitioning over to the new 2.0 Miller Cycle engine for many models. Reports from 2018 Tiguan owners show very impressive real-world fuel economy.

  • avatar
    ra_pro

    I own 2016 R, the best car I have ever owned and I believe the best car available in performance terms under 100K in Canada, not saying the fastest, most powerful but overall best-suited for regular driving. Other than the pedestrian look inside and out it’s better tan anything else out there, it’s a fantastic car. Alas customer service is ridiculous. Purchased a protection plus insurance from VW when buying the car. It’s supposed to cover any damage up to 17K. I have a scratched wheel and hood and I asked BMW through a dealer to fix these under the insurance. That was 8 weeks ago and I still haven’t heard anything back. This doesn’t take away from the car but it does reflect poorly on VW Canada.

  • avatar
    matt3319

    Next May/June a shiny new GTI manual w/LEDs will be sitting in my driveway. Might see how the lease numbers go. I don’t drive much so may consider leasing again.

    Leased a Toyota Corolla SE for my daughter. It’s a CVT 2017 and it’s super cheap at $209/taxes for 3 years. May actually buy it if my daughter can be responsible with it. It will run forever with basic maintenance. Maybe my current 5 year old son may get it. It’s certainly possible.

  • avatar
    random1

    Of course we all know VW’s reputation for quality, but the VWs I’ve owned have all been remarkably reliable, and I’ve had a couple of notoriously “bad” models. ’91 Jetta, and the first B5 Passat Wagon(’98 maybe?).

    No VWs for years in between, but now I have a ’15 GTI and ’14 Touareg. I can count the number of non-maintenance dealer visits on all those cars compbined. It’s 2. I sold the Passat w/only 60k miles to join the minivan world, but the ’91 I gave to a young relative with 245k miles on it.

    What’s the best/most accurate source for reliablity ratings? I don’t have a CR subscription, so that’s out.


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