Volkswagen T-Roc Is Definitely Not Coming to America Now (and Probably Not Ever)

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
volkswagen t roc is definitely not coming to america now and probably not ever

Volkswagen 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highly unlikely that Volkswagen will leave the Tiguan Limited — the new de-contented, low-priced Tiguan that’s already been replaced by a new Tiguan — to take the fight to America’s growing fleet of subcompact utility vehicles.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.

Is 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 and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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  • Superdessucke Superdessucke on Aug 28, 2017

    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!

  • Speed3 Speed3 on Aug 29, 2017

    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.

  • Keith Maybe my market's different. but 4.5k whack. Plus mods like his are just donations for the next owner. I'd consider driving it as a fun but practical yet disposable work/airport car if it was priced right. Some VAG's (yep, even Audis) are capable, long lasting reliable cars despite what the haters preach. I can't lie I've done the same as this guy: I had a decently clean 4 Runner V8 with about the same miles- I put it up for sale around the same price as the lower mile examples. I heard crickets chirp until I dropped the price. Folks just don't want NYC cab miles.
  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.