Is There a Market for an Arteon Wagon in America?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
is there a market for an arteon wagon in america

The answer, mouthed silently by many of our readers, is surely, “No, absolutely not.”

And yet the door is not closed on the prospect of a wagon variant of the Volkswagen Arteon ⁠— a high-end liftback sedan that landed with a barely audible thump in North America last year. Comments made at the Chicago Auto Show reveal this as a possibility, and spy photos that cropped up today make that possibility even more appealing.

What isn’t yet known is whether the pool of potential buyers could fit into a Volkswagen Arteon.

For starters, the background: In a roundtable at last week’s show, Volkswagen’s vice president of product marketing and strategy, Hein Schafer, revealed that the Arteon is already due for a refresh. The makeover will come at the end of the current year. Seems a trifle odd, as we’ve long since moved past the era when automakers sought to visually update their vehicles for each new model year. One must remember that the Arteon waited two years after its European debut to travel stateside.

In addition to that, the brand’s range-topper might even see a wagon variant in the U.S. market, Roadshow reported. It’s a big “might,” given America’s propensity for shunning the bodystyle. VW’s discontinued Golf SportWagen might be the only exception to the rule.

Schafer said the automaker is currently engaged in studies to determine if enough demand exists to warrant the wagon’s trans-Atlantic journey. On Tuesday, spy photos appeared of the actual vehicle in the wild, playing in European snow.

It’s long, wide, and low (and in this instance, disguised as a Passat). Nevertheless, sexy Euro wagons have gained the annoying reputation as cruel teases, tempting a small niche of American buyers from afar and never getting close enough to touch. Sometimes one breaks through the blockade, like the Jaguar XF Sportbrake, only to see its lifespan cut short. Audi’s A6 Allroad is the latest model to carefully dip its toe in the water.

While the Arteon wagon’s popularity among U.S. consumers is far from certain, Schafer believes the model as a whole would perform better if Americans actually knew it existed. The exec griped about VW’s lack of marketing support upon launch, a move he feels carries much of the blame for the not-unattractive model’s low volume.

“It’s definitely better than 400 units a month,” he told the roundtable, adding that advertising dollars are set to flow. “If you’re not spending $90 million to get the car out the door and the marketing on the street, it becomes quite tough.”

Selling its first examples in the U.S. in April of last year, the large-ish midsize four-cylinder liftback saw just 2,449 sales in 2019, with no month topping 400 units. (We can’t tell you how the Arteon fared in January, as VW of America has moved to quarterly sales reporting. What a pisser…)

The problem faced by the Arteon is that it’s a premium-minded vehicle with a budget badge in a market that shuns passenger cars, and there’s no engine upgrade available, either. The general consensus is that the Arteon is a good-looking and capable vehicle that lacks much of a reason for existing.

Time will tell what VW brass decides re: the wagon. Most crystal balls say “no,” but pollsters, on occasion, get things wrong.

[Images: Tim Healey/TTAC, Volkswagen]

Join the conversation
3 of 30 comments
  • V16 V16 on Feb 11, 2020

    A market for an Arteon wagon? Unfortunately, No. A market for the European 'New' Touareg SUV? Yes, but forbidden fruit in North America.

    • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Feb 11, 2020

      Yep, that is why they brought over the version of the new Touareg badged "Audi Q7." Except for pickup trucks and BOF SUVs, US consumers have proven totally allergic to paying premium prices for mass-market brands.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Feb 11, 2020

    That SUV or CUV (flat floor) is a truck for CAFE. A wagon/estate/shooting brake isn't. Any US importer or maker would rather you go for the truck-let for their cafe numbers, so they can sell more high profit Escalades, etc. Our roads suck so a trucklet is a better way to go in a low speed environment with huge holes. An older population also likes the high seating points and the non geek population will always buy the bigger vehicle at the same price point. I stare, longingly, at euro catalog, the C class Estate I'd have ordered in C43 trim...if I could have.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic Auto insurance renewal every six months. Ten year old car, good driving record, own my own home, excellent credit score, no teenagers on the policy, etc, etc, etc.Yet, I pay thru the nose!!!!!Adds on the morning news brag about $500k settlements.I paid less when I lived in New York State.
  • Jim Bonham Full EVs are not for everyone, they cannot meet all needs. Hybrids do a much better job of providing the benefits of EVs without most of the drawbacks. I have a hybrid sedan with plenty of room, plus all the bells and whistles. It has 360 hp, AWD, does 0-60 in just over 5 sec.(the instant torque is a real benefit), and I get 29 mpg, average. NOT driven lightly. I bought it used for $25k.Sure, it's a little heavier because of the battery, motor, etc., but not nearly as much as a full EV. The battery is smaller/lighter/cheaper and both the alternator and starter motor are eliminated since the motor assumes those functions. It's cool to watch the charge guage show I'm getting energy back when coasting and/or braking. It's even cooler to drive around part of the time on battery only. It really comes in handy in traffic since the engine turns off and you don't waste fuel idling. With the adaptive cruise control you just let the car slowly inch along by itself.I only wish it were a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Then, I'd have A LOT more EV-only range, along with even more of that instant torque. The battery would be bigger, but still a fraction of the size of a full EV. I could easily go weeks without using much, if any gas (depending upon my commute) IF I plug it in every night. But I don't have to. The gas engine will charge the battery whenever it's needed.It's just not as efficient a way to do it.Electric companies offer special rates for both EVs and PHEVs which lower your operating cost compared to gasoline. They'll even give you a rebate to offset the cost of installing a home charger. You can still get federal (up to $7,500, plus some state) tax credits for PHEVs.What's not to like? My next daily driver will be a PHEV of some kind. Probably a performance-oriented one like the new Dodge Hornet or one of the German Hybrid SUVs. All the benefits, sound, feel, etc., of a gas vehicle along with some electric assist to improve fuel economy, performance, and drivability. None of the inherent EV issues of cost, range anxiety, long charging times, poor charger availability, grid capacity issues, etc. I think most people will eventually catch on to this and go PHEV instead of going full EV. Synthetic, carbon-neutral eFuels, hydrogen engines, and other things will also prevent full EVs from being 100% of the fleet, regardless of what the politicians say. PHEVs can be as "clean" (overall) as full EVs with the right fuels. They're also cheaper, and far more practical, for most people. They can do it all, EVs can't.
  • Ron rufo there is in WaSHINGTON STATE
  • ToolGuy @Chris, your photography rocks.
  • ToolGuy No War for Oli.If you have not ever held a piece of structural honeycomb (composite sandwich) in your own hands, try it.