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]
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.
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