By on September 14, 2017

2018 Volkswagen T-Roc - Image: VolkswagenAmerica can’t have the Volkswagen T-Roc. Canada can’t have the Volkswagen T-Roc. As far as we know at this point, Australia can’t have the T-Roc even though the segment in which it competes owns a hefty one-tenth of the Australian market.

Volkswagen nevertheless sees huge global potential for the brand’s new subcompact crossover, all the more so since actually unveiling the new model in late August.

The Volkswagen T-Roc’s Portugal assembly plant will therefore not build a modest 70,000 annual units. Though sales aren’t yet underway, Volkswagen board member Jürgen Stackmann says the automaker has already determined it’s necessary to triple annual production, according to CarAdvice.

Volkswagen does have other plans for America’s small SUV/crossover space. But excluding the T-Roc from the U.S. equation puts the brand even further behind the increasingly crossover-happy American consumer’s buying timeline, a poor result for a brand that gleans only 15 percent of its American volume from utility vehicles.

Market-wide, over 40 percent of the vehicles sold in the United States are now SUVs and crossovers. The T-Roc’s exclusion from the United States explains the reasoning behind Volkswagen’s decision to maintain the old Tiguan’s place in the lineup. It’s now called the Volkswagen Tiguan Limited, and it’s priced at $22,895, or $3,350 less than the new Volkswagen Tiguan. Autoblog, after conversing with Volkswagen director of development Frank Welsch, claims a new small crossover aimed at North America, China, and maybe Russia is due in 2019 or 2020.2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Limited - Image: Volkswagen“We are checking the feasibility of a car which is right between T-Roc and Tiguan, and this could be interesting for America. Volkswagen wants its North American small crossover competitor to be less costly than the T-Roc would be. Of this there can be no doubt: Volkswagen isn’t going to change its U.S. T-Roc plans.

“Let’s be very clear: the T-Roc will not go to the U.S.,” Welsch says.

“We are going to have an SUV that is even smaller than a T-Roc, and it will also not go to the U.S.”

But the T-Roc is clearly destined to be more of a global success than Volkswagen originally thought possible, so a brand that has for far too long set hilariously unrealistic U.S. sales goals while applying a de-prioritized product strategy to those goals — delivering Golfs two years later here than in Europe, for example — will first seek to maximize global subcompact crossover potential before doing anything about the lack of a competitor in the United States.

Clearly, when it comes to the T-Roc, size matters. Volkswagen needs to learn that timing matters, too.

[Image: Volkswagen Group]

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 and Instagram.

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14 Comments on “No, America Can’t Have a Volkswagen T-Roc, But VW Is Tripling Production Before Production Even Begins...”


  • avatar
    darex

    Australia does get the Audi Q2, however, unlike USA/Canada.

  • avatar
    YeOldeMobile

    This just strikes me as supremely strange. Sure, I guess VW is banking on developing markets to fuel T-Roc growth, but why not put it out in North America or Australia?

    What is the thinking behind this decision at VW USA? Do they just think VW should always be the cheap car company?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I don’t think it’s developing markets the T-Roc is aimed at, it seems VW feels it’ll be too expensive to sell here.

      I guess they want to avoid every car reviewer on this continent from saying something to the effect of “sure its good, but HR-V/Trax/etc is $x,xxx cheaper and is just as good”.

  • avatar
    Prado

    In my opinion, this is a very bad move by VW for not bringing this to North America. This thing could have been a huge success in a similar demographic that VW achieved with the MK4 Jetta. That generation Jetta was small and expensive for it’s class, yet it sold very well. For the right product, people will gladly pay more. Also, how expensive could this really be to manufacture when you have a plant in Mexico.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I cannot conceive of why VW is not doing this car for the NA market. Seems like a slam dunk.

  • avatar
    michaellee

    This is just a guess but VW probably knows they will sell every one of these they can make. Why not sell them in Europe or China where they can charge so much more for each one? If they are producing these in Portugal and have to price it to compete with HR-V and the gang in America they’d probably lose money (or again just not make as much as they would selling it someplace else).

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Ding-ding-ding, we have a winner.

      This is what happened with the Audi Q3 originally as well: Audi of America was adamant that they were not going to sell it here in the US, and it was for two reasons: one, they had not yet cemented their ‘entry level plan’ (i.e.: A3 Sedan and then Q3 crossover); but more importantly was two, they did not have the production capacity to supply the NA market.

      It’s more profitable to sell to the EU than the US market at this point for a variety of reasons, so why cut your margins if you’re capacity constrained?

      The T-Roc will probably make it here at facelift time in 3-4 years. A shame, really, but understandable. The VW group is production constrained for popular models. To sell profitably in NA they need to build this in Puebla, which is maxed out.

  • avatar

    In Germany, owning a GTi is our BMW 3 money. Pretty much every price class is one off compared to the US, and I’m not even getting into Brit or French carbon or displacement taxes. An E class with a V6 gas engine is a mack daddy extravagence…our “small one”.

    This is probably set at a $40k price point worldwide, which is more than this market will want to pay, esp as they have the Atlas for us big “muricans…

    VW has always had a class more of options and such in Europe. Look at the online options for the Brit VW site, or try english in other EU countries. We get the mid/lower tier, save the Eos.

  • avatar
    djd352

    Just checked, a well optioned T-Roc with a diesel and automatic transmission costs 40k Euro! Subtracting 19% tax that gives you 32k Euro or 38k USD! Way too expensive for the American market, and this is without leather or navigation, which add another 3000 USD… For comparison a fully loaded diesel Hr-V with a manual transmission (no auto available) is ~30k Euro with 19% tax and 24k Euro without tax. There is no way VW could achieve those kind of profit margins in the U.S.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    “Tiguan Limited”

    Ugh, it’s like the City Golf/Jetta thing all over again.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      You have to admire their consistency, especially when even Ferdinand Piech admitted VW doesn’t have a handle on the US market. They continue to prove they’re not even trying to understand how to compete here.

      What we Americans don’t realize is how good we have it, with relatively low priced cars to go along with our low priced gasoline. VW execs simply don’t know how to play on our playing field, it’s so unlike the fields they play elsewhere, where they can make bigger profits with less effort.

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