By on August 28, 2017

Der neue Volkswagen T-Roc - Image: VolkswagenVolkswagen is perpetually late to the SUV party. That much we knew already. The Volkswagen Touareg came late, and was improperly positioned. The Volkswagen Tiguan was much later, and it too was overpriced and undersized. The Volkswagen Atlas, the brand’s first three-row crossover, only arrived in America this spring.

The Volkswagen T-Roc was clearly not the first guest to arrive, either. The Nissan Juke, Mini Countryman, Subaru Crosstrek, Buick Encore, Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-3 have been collecting U.S. sales for years. But it’s not as though Volkswagen was the only major automaker late to the party. Ford’s EcoSport still isn’t here, the Hyundai Kona and Kia Stonic were unveiled only recently, and Toyota’s C-HR is a fresh release that lacks an all-wheel-drive option.

But the Volkswagen T-Roc, revealed last week, will be more than just late to the party. In the United States, the Volkswagen T-Roc has returned its invitation by ticking the wrong box. Regret to decline.

Volkswagen of America has confirmed to TTAC that the Volkswagen T-Roc will not come to the United States, probably not ever.

But it’s highly unlikely that Volkswagen will leave the Tiguan Limited — the new de-contented, low-priced Tiguan that’s already been replaced by a new Tiguan — to take the fight to America’s growing fleet of subcompact utility vehicles. Instead, expect a different small utility vehicle, a small crossover that might appeal more directly to the U.S. masses, to set foot on American shores.2018 Volkswagen T-Roc interior - Image: VolkswagenIs the T-Roc too small, too big, too costly, too… something to earn its way against the Jeep Renegade and Honda HR-V and Buick Encore? Volkswagen won’t say precisely why the T-Roc is unfit for U.S. duty. The decision is an odd one. Five months ago, after Volkswagen’s U.S. boss Hinrich Woebcken acknowledged the brand’s woeful under-representation in the U.S. SUV/crossover sector, reports suggested Volkswagen’s U.S. dealer network was entirely ready to sell T-Rocs.

So far this year, only 14 percent of Volkswagen’s U.S. volume is derived from utility vehicles. More than 40 percent of the vehicles now sold in America are SUVs/crossovers.

Yet Volkswagen is now pointing out that most small utility vehicles sold globally are sold in Europe and China. To be fair, the U.S. subcompact crossover market is small. With fewer than 320,000 sales through 2017’s first seven months, the subcompact crossover sector generates far fewer sales than the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, which combined for nearly 450,000 sales during the same period.

But it is a growth sector, and it’s one that Volkswagen appears perfectly willing to neglect, at least for a little while longer. According to Bloomberg, Volkswagen plans seven new utility vehicles by the end of next year.

[Image: 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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34 Comments on “Volkswagen T-Roc Is Definitely Not Coming to America Now (and Probably Not Ever)...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    My VW way to disappoint a whole bunch of sorority girls.

    No Cabriolet, no Eos, no T-Roc…

  • avatar

    “subcompact crossover”

    Isn’t that an oxymoron?

  • avatar
    GermanReliabilityMyth

    “The Volkswagen Atlas, the brand’s first three-row crossover, only arrived in America this spring.”

    When “crossover” was first coined, I wondered what it meant besides a marketing term. What are we crossing over into, exactly? And haven’t we already crossed over at this point? It’s been 9 years already. It took less time for Moses & Co. to cross the Red Sea for Pete’s sake.

    • 0 avatar
      gespo04

      The 1994 Toyota RAV-4 was called a crossover because it was a cross between an SUV and a family car.

    • 0 avatar
      JDG1980

      A crossover is basically any vehicle that has a SUV form factor, but is built unibody-style like a car. It’s not about what size the vehicle is. Thus, for example, the Chevy Traverse is a crossover while the similarly sized Chevy Tahoe is a SUV – since the former is built on the Lambda unibody platform while the latter is based on the same body-on-frame truck platform as the Silverado pickup.

      VW doesn’t even have a BOF truck platform in the U.S., so all its SUV-like vehicles are crossovers, including the Atlas.

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        I don’t think it’s that simple. I believe that the Grand Cherokee has always been unibody, as was the Cherokee, and both have always been marketed as SUVs. The current Explorer is unibody, and Ford sells it as an SUV.

        It seems to me that SUV and crossover are the same basic shape, just one is generally larger than the other.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          SJ and XJ Cherokees were unibody SUVs, but ones that share their platforms with cars are CUVs. The first couple of Grand Cherokee generations were SUVs, but the Daimler era ones, which include the current one, are CUVs that share DNA with Mercedes sedans and crossovers. The current Explorer is a CUV shaped CUV on an old Volvo car platform.

  • avatar
    mleitman

    Any word on Canada?

  • avatar
    Speed3

    Seems like another miss on VW’s part.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    There is no better way to experience the fine feeling of getting screwed over repeatedly than to be a principal of a US VW dealer. I can’t believe they still have any dealers.

    This is a dumb and stupid decision by VWoA, just like most of the decisions it makes.

  • avatar
    ash78

    When VW makes up around 3% of the US market, rushing 3 SUVs to market in rapid succession (Atlas and Tiguan, both with 3 rows), plus the T-Roc which would partially cannibalize the Golf Alltrack…

    I don’t know. This many SUVs in this many segments is something you can try when you’re a 10% market share player because your pie is huge.

    VW is inviting people to eat pie at the 11th hour of a pie bakeoff. Even if your pie is amazing, everyone is ready to throw up.

    • 0 avatar
      brawnychicken333

      I’m not sure that is true…for a variety of reasons.

      Are people really cross shopping the All track with other subcompact crossovers?

      VW brand specific fans might cross shop. Why would VW care?

      If something is selling well you develop more products that have similar attributes. Sure, you cannibalize some of your own-but you steal more from others.

      Basically, VW can’t help but step on their own #$#@ every time they do something. Their best products never seem to get here, and when they do, they get watered down to the point of stupidity. Audi doesn’t seem to make as many of the same mistakes. I wonder why?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    And when VW fails to get traction in North America, they’ll adamantly insist it’s because we don’t “get” their product.

    It must be really, really frustrating to be a VW dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      Oh we get it. Problem is, we don’t get it, as in, they don’t sell them here.

      Oh well, I hope BMW/MINI, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Hyundai, et al. laugh all the way to the bank, with money that cheap bastards VW could have shared in, but never will.

  • avatar
    Fred

    One less SUV in America can only be a good thing in my book.

  • avatar
    SlowMyke

    It’s like VW and FCA are in a contest to see who can make the most daft management decisions.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    It’s all well and good that VW recognizes that sometimes global products don’t work in the US market, but if the response is to deliver our ‘Merican-special’ years late, perhaps they need to re-think that strategy.

    I still can’t believe they let the Tiguan get as stale as it did, and are only now shipping the Atlas. (I’m not even counting the Touraeg as ever existing; it was about as relevant to the SUV market as the Phaeton was to the full-size sedan market.)

  • avatar
    vehic1

    Too bad, if it never does make it here; it was much more handsome than some of the insect-like other small crossovers. Since they didn’t flatly say 100% never – it is still a possibility, or some other Polo or Golf-based model.

  • avatar
    matt3319

    When the heck is VW going to wake up it’s sleepy ass eyes?? I mean seriously VW, have you ever thought that maybe this side of the pond wants your non-Americanized cars???? It certainly works for Audi and, wait a minute, take a deep breath, it will work for you too!!!!

    VW makes some really great cars that we never get over hear. I’ve owned two passats. Yes it’s a big car on the inside, but I tell you what, the Euro Passat looks tons better. The scorocco would be a great niche car here. The up might sell well. It goes on and on.

    I’m tired of shaking my head in disbelief of VW.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      Actually, the fat-ass Tennessee Passat both sold better than the semi-legendary “A4 at a VW Price” B5 Passat ever did, and it actually earned a per-unit profit (prior to the TDI fiasco), while the B5 and “B6” Passats were money-losers.

      (And I’m saying this as somebody who owned a B5.5 1.8T M/T wagon for 13 years.)

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      They sell ALL their other crap in the tiniest of Markets, like in Australia/NZ, South Africa, etc… Why not in North America, too? Too risk-averse for us, but not for them?

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Despite the fact that “Volkswagen’s emissions scandal may have impacted its overall worldwide sales, but the company still sold 2.8 per cent more vehicles in 2016, for a total of 6,111,197 units moved.”

        So as the 2nd largest manufacturer of vehicles in the world, maybe they do have some idea of what they are doing?

        And maybe they are waiting for the North American market/consumer to ‘catch up to their products’? Once we stop basing our car buying decisions on ‘price per pound/cubic foot’ and become willing to pay more for smaller, better engineered/equipped vehicles then perhaps they will send their European products here, unaltered?

        • 0 avatar
          newenthusiast

          “Once we stop basing our car buying decisions on ‘price per pound/cubic foot’ and become willing to pay more for smaller, better engineered/equipped vehicles then perhaps they will send their European products here, unaltered?”

          Methinks they will be waiting forever, then. The NA market trend for larger vehicles lower prices is not new. The type of vehicles that meet that mantra have changed over the decades (pick up trucks, SUVs instead of full size sedans and wagons), but not the general idea of “most car for the dollar”.

          Forget about enthusiasts…how would you sell that you your average car lessee/buyer who just wants some combination of space, comfort, quiet, and safety….likely in that order?

        • 0 avatar
          JDG1980

          “Better engineered” or “Volkswagen”: pick one.

  • avatar
    darex

    Wow! What a stupid company! No wonder they cannot succeed in North America. No Q2 and no T-Roc. Who is advising them?

  • avatar
    Ermel

    “Is the T-Roc too small, too big, too costly, too… something to earn its way” — my guess is too costly. Expect something styled more aggressively, built more cheaply and possibly Chinese instead.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Either:

    1. They must have figured the T-Roc would cannibalize sales of the Audi Q3, which certainly has better margins, or

    2. They’re going to offer an uber-German-engineered EV mix in 2020-25, so that nobody will miss the T-Roc, or

    3. They screwed up (again), or

    4. All of the above.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      Nobody’s waiting for their EV vaporware, and they are NOT forgiven for their arrogance and cheating. The Q3 could not be canibalized by anything at the moment, as it cannot compete.

      The answer is “3”.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    It will arrive the same time as my Scirocco.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    It’s nice to see the CUV craze lose one, makes me smile. Stick with it VW. And hey, site admins, WordPress 4.8.1 is available. Just thought I’d let you know!

  • avatar
    Speed3

    I get it, maybe at current sales volume the subcompact crossover segment doesn’t pencil out. Last year the entire segment was just over 500k. The range of sales varied from 10-20k for the Fiat, Mini, and Mazda to about 100k for the Jeep and Subaru.

    However, VW sales have been in decline since 2012. Maybe they passed because they know the market has peaked and this would much likelier Ben selling closer to 10-20k a year than 100k.

    My question is how do we know if the shift towards crossovers has ended/stabilized. What’s if car sales fall further? Wouldn’t VW want to offer thisnfor that contingency.


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