By on April 20, 2022

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess has explained that the automaker would very much like to get back in to the United States’ good graces now that it has cut ties with Russia. With the future of Europe looking shaky, VW is hoping to maintain its position as the best-selling brand in China and start making inroads in America after burning a few bridges there.

Despite the Dieselgate scandal being seven years in the rearview mirror, the automaker is still coping with the resulting financial penalties and the resulting decision to scale back its U.S. aspirations a tad until its electric models hit the road. But the company has always had an issue understanding what American drivers wanted, resulting in boom and bust phases for the company until it manages to solve the puzzle. The most common issue was an inability to adhere to ever-changing emissions standards. But there are also periods where the manufacturer was snubbed for offering subpar electrical equipment or simply having a lineup that was out of sync with American tastes. But Volkswagen has historically enjoyed a resurgence after making the necessary changes and Diess is hoping for another comeback. 

After enjoying a whopping 467,408 U.S. deliveries in 2012, VW rapidly began losing its share of the market. The emissions scandal only made things worse and the automaker failed to gain any ground until 2017. Unfortunately, subsequent growth has been slow and the business has had trouble garnering more than 360,000 sales in a single year.

“I think we didn’t take the US customer seriously enough. We tried to sell the European product here in the U.S.” Diess told 60 Minutes in a recent interview. “We have to become relevant in the U.S. And we are in the right way.”

According to the segment, the “right way” involves electrifying everything in its lineup and making sure its plant in Chattanooga, TN, likewise makes the transition. The factory will soon be producing the battery-electric ID.4 crossover, which VW thinks will be the EV that resonates best with American consumers.

But there are still headwinds to contend with. Americans have expressed less interest in EVs than car buyers in other developed nations and VW still has to sell combustion vehicles at healthy volumes to rationalize its status as the world’s largest automaker by revenue, second-largest by sales, and third-largest by market capitalization. It’s also enduring a lot of the same economic pressures as its peers, if not more so. Volkswagen was one of the first businesses to shutter factories in Russia this year and was forced to stall numerous assembly lines in Germany as a result — not that things were going swimmingly beforehand.

While the war in Ukraine has indeed impacted the global economy and complicated international trade, it’s also become a popular scapegoat for businesses and governments that were seeing problems prior to the conflict. Truth be told, the automotive sector was already in trouble before a single Russian boot touched Ukrainian soil. The industry entered into 2022 coping with inflation, supply chains that had not yet recovered from two years of COVID restrictions and chip shortages, and studies were showing that general productivity was on the decline pretty much everywhere on the planet.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen saw IG Metall threatening a labor revolt based on what it claimed was lopsided compensation for executives and shareholders while workers simply had to watch the wealth gap widen. The union had likewise grown annoyed with the company’s decision to prioritize all-electric vehicles, saying they would result in fewer factory jobs. As currencies started losing their value, line workers demanded a wage increase and finally got their wish in April of 2021.

However, VW kicked off 2022 with Diess suggesting further complications would “lead to huge price increases [and] scarcity of energy and inflation.” Shortly thereafter, the business announced that the situation with Russia had made it exceedingly difficult to continue operations in Europe as if everything was normal and would be instituting a new plan that placed a greater emphasis on China and the United States. We know that the automaker was having trouble procuring electrical components and basically stopped receiving wiring harnesses once the war broke out in Ukraine. But Volkswagen Group had also spent the last few years coping with chip shortages and absentee components anyway and botched the launches of a few key products (e.g. Golf and ID.4) before Eastern Europe went into battle mode.

It would be easy to frame VW Group’s recent messaging as little more than an effort to relax investors during a period of economic uncertainty, and there’s certainly some of that taking place here. CEO Diess undoubtedly wants to present a brave face for its troubles in Europe while making sure its biggest market (China) understands it will not be abandoned. The company is attempting to convey something similar to the United States, which is backed up by promises of increased localization and additional investments in Chattanooga. That entails a very real $7.1 billion dollar investment to set the stage for 25 new electric models it wants to sell in the U.S. by 2023.

[Image: Volkswagen Group]

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80 Comments on “VW CEO: ‘We Have to Become Relevant in the U.S’...”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    There’s Marcel Marceau again.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      That picture has been used so many time here it’s getting worn out.

      If VW wants to become relevant, they can start with getting better names for their vehicles. The current list is rubbish. What the $%@# is an “ID.”, and why are there a numerical series of them?

  • avatar
    Garrett

    The only VW products that would interest me, as a former VW owner, would be ones that are largely the same as what they sell in their home market.

    A made for the US/North America version doesn’t interest me. Other companies do it better – every time VW tries it, it seems like the goal is to give us something inferior.

    • 0 avatar
      On Edge

      Sell the Euro models here like the regular Golf, ID3, and TRoc. There is little to no competition for that type of vehicle here.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        The regular Golf is a great car, but it didn’t sell, so there’s no point bringing that back. Heck, even lifting it and sticking ugly black plastic on the sides – usually a reliable method to talk Americans into cars – didn’t work.

        Agree with you on the T-Roc, though – I’ve long thought that would have been a great addition. Unfortunately, it’s European-sourced, so it’s not going to be brought here due to the supply situation.

        • 0 avatar
          Varezhka

          Heck, Golf Mk.8 is selling quite poorly even in Europe; a little less than half the annual volume of Golf Mk.7 (not taking into account the recently departed Golf Sportsvan and e-Golf figures).

          I think they’ve cheapened out their products on both sides of the pond to a point of “why bother”?

          • 0 avatar
            la834

            Partly that, and partly everything in the Mk8 being controlled by flaky touchscreens. The Mk7 had a high-class interior with good ergonomics.

    • 0 avatar
      On Edge

      Sell the Euro models here like the regular Golf, ID3, and TRoc. There is little to no competition for that type of vehicle here.

    • 0 avatar
      Oberkanone

      VW far exceeded their goal of supplying inferior versions of models sold in Germany to North America.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        I apologize in advance if I hijack the comments section, but there’s a lot to say and reply back to.

        And if @Corey Lewis is reading through these, A little over 24 hours ago, like you, I became a member of the ex-VW club. It’s a huge weight off of the chest not having to worry about what is going to fail every single time it rains or snows.

        @Oberkanone: Yes they have – 100% agree. I read through these, and I agree with what a few others here have posted. 20 years ago, the car buyer might put aside some peeling interior padded plastics or the always dead light assemblies to get a real German car, with Teutonic styling and solid driving feel. The quest to ring every last cent has driven them into the ground. Why would ANYONE consider one of the last Passats or the inferior Taos right now? Would anyone pay well over sticker for any of their cars, except the R?

        We are not the left behind stepchildren of the auto buying population. VW was cool. The ads were cool. The violet gauges were very striking at night. Hell, even the New Beetle sold well at first and that was a flaming heap of iffy quality and awful packaging. We wanted the real Passat. We wanted a better Jetta and Golf. We at one time did pay extra and were willing to do it again.

        I know the MX-5 now parked out front is more expensive. But it is almost 1,000 pounds lighter than what I turned in and you’d think that cheapening out would happen to keep the weight down. But that interior is rock solid. It doesn’t feel hollow or cost cut, although the infotainment is really outdated. At 8,000 miles, the first of many dash and door rattles plagued the GLI. Then interior trim fell off. Then the overhead console failed, and so on. It went from kind of solid to the rigidity of string cheese left out in the sun in no time flat.

        I think VW really stand for “Buy the Extended Warranty…”

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          “Would anyone pay well over sticker for any of their cars, except the R?”

          I wouldn’t pay over sticker for ANY car today. And I do think your poor GLI was afflicted by demonic possession.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “the company has always had an issue understanding what American drivers wanted”

    They don’t want arrogant “German Engineering”. They want Toyota quality, Honda reliability, and Hyundai value.

    How about a 10/100 warranty? How about more responsive infotainment systems? How about more efficient EVs? How about styling that’s not stuck in the 90s? How about new engines that don’t burn oil, and electrical systems that don’t fail when new?

    The average buyer knows nothing of Dieselgate, Ukrainian wiring harnesses, Russian sales, or VW’s labor issues – nor do they care. They want a brand they can trust, and that takes years of humble work to accomplish.

    • 0 avatar
      RangerM

      Based on my experience with a 2001.5 “New Passat” I’d like an interior with materials that can last at least as long as the 1993 Ford Ranger I owned around the same time.

      It wasn’t 2 years before the Passat’s plastic handles had either started peeling or going shiny. I already forgave the water pump that failed at 20K miles and the taillight(s) that burned out, assuming they were simply defective.

    • 0 avatar
      NigelShiftright

      I kinda like styling that’s stuck in the ’90s. I could easily do without –

      – a grill that looks like something Fred and Barney would cook sauropod steaks on
      – a beltline so high that it feels like I’m driving an M4 Sherman
      – enough pointless folds and creases to be a whole fifth grade classroom’s worth of practice origami projects

      Hey SCE to AUX, always wondered if you identified as John Aaron or as Al Bean —–

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @NigelShiftright:

        I could only hope to be as bright as John Aaron. You win today’s prize. :)

        To paraphrase Winston Churchill: “Never in the field of spaceflight was so much owed by so many to so few.”

    • 0 avatar
      gasser

      Tell the folks at VW what Americans DON’T want. We don’t want to know every person in VW repair on a first name basis!

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “They don’t want arrogant “German Engineering”. They want Toyota quality, Honda reliability, and Hyundai value.”

      Stop using “value” when you mean “price”. The two are nowhere near the same.

      As for Honda reliability…no, they absolutely don’t want to look in that rear view mirror.

      Toyota quality, Toyota reliability, and because you get what you pay for, Toyota pricing. That’s a perfectly fine package. Do that all with a German engineering flair, and you’ve got a winner.

      But first and foremost, if they want to be relevant, put buttons and knobs back inside the cars. My 2017 GTI is a wonderful piece, way more reliable than any modern day Honda and with panache that Toyota and the Japanese in general avoid at all costs, and I have been looking forward to the Mk8 for a long time.

      And then they revealed the glass cockpit.

      Sorry, VW. You won me over, only to lose me completely. But you can recover. Just put buttons and knobs back inside the car.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Well, my only VW and Honda were both terrible, while I’m happily on my 5th H/K product in my garage, and two more in the family.

        My “Honda reliability” phrase was what others say, but my experience was quite different.

        Actually, I do technically have a 2nd VW – a 2008 Rabbit which I bought at 95k as a college driver for my son. It’s actually given us less trouble than my 02 Passat did when new.

        As always in these pages, your mileage may vary.

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      Considering VW spend about half of the warranty claim cost for the entire automotive industry in the United States, 10/100 warranty will probably kill the company.

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      Considering VW currently spends about half of the warranty claim cost for the entire automotive industry in the United States, 10/100 warranty will probably kill the company.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        @Varezhka – the awful thing is that for the 3020 model year, they (blank)canned their longer warranty (the 6 year one) and went to a 4 year, 50,000 mile warranty. 10 year/100,000 mile warranty on a VW? Each dealer should have replacement window regulators, windshield wiper motors, water pumps, and maybe crated engines at the ready. And double the number of service bays. And stimulate the economy by hiring more mechanics and courtesy van drivers because they will be needed on a full-time basis.

        They have turned into Jaguar/Land Rover. Keep it until the first major repair (probably 5 miles after the warranty expired), get it fixed, and then toss it like a hand grenade. But the first major repair on a VW is like having your first back surgery. It never stops at one and the next one is right around the corner. And it doesn’t stop until either the car is beyond dead, or (to compare), the back surgery patient is no longer around.

        • 0 avatar
          Varezhka

          @theflyersfan
          Back surgery, that is indeed a perfect analogy. You fix one thing and it somehow screws something else in your body and no matter how many trips you make, you never feel the same.

          I still remember when VW still had the 2 years/24,000 miles warranty, and you’d be surprised at how many things can break in that 2 years.

          I’d think leaving the economy car market and focusing on Audi and above will be a better option for the US market. If not, maybe make it a subscription only brand?

    • 0 avatar

      “Toyota quality, Honda reliability, and Hyundai value.”

      The correct statement would be: “Toyota quality, Toyota reliability, and Toyota value.”

      • 0 avatar
        W.Minter

        The whole organization is unfit to deliver Toyota quality, reliability, and value.

        A little anecdote:

        My 2020 EUDM VW has a classic fuel gauge. The very small analog dial has a little fuel pump symbol on it, including an Moylan arrow (invented in 1986) showing on which side of the car the fuel filler is located.

        Simple think you might think.

        Guess what, the engineers put the gas pump symbol and the little arrow *on the left side of the dial*. That means: When the fuel tank level is approaching the 1/4 area *the hand of the dial covers the arrow* – making the arrow useless when you’re about to drive to the pump because you don’t see it anymore.

        If the engineers would have put the symbol on the right side of the dial, everything would have been fine, at no extra cost.

        • 0 avatar
          la834

          Better than some Mercedes Metris (Vito) vans from a few years back, which were recalled after someone noticed the arrow was pointed the wrong direction. They lifted the gauge cluster from the C class sedans and forgot that those have the fuel filler on the opposite side.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    As someone who will leave the VW fold for my next vehicle, I’d tell Herr Diess the last thing I’m interested in are their crapwagons solely engineered for the North American market. Or the Chinese one, though their VWs are now sadly better than many we get here.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    probably sell a lot more of them cute lil retro vans if they offered a gasoline option.

  • avatar
    Sobro

    “That entails a very real $7.1 billion dollar investment to set the stage for 25 new electric models it wants to sell in the U.S. by 2023.”

    25 new electric models? By next year? Typo? Badge and body cladding shenanigans? WTF?

  • avatar
    ollicat

    I have a 2018 GTI Fantastic car. On the other hand, the 2022 without a volume knob is a 10 on the stupid scale. I will not be upgrading.

  • avatar
    On Edge

    No more regular Golf means I will leave VW for good after having four of them over the years. No crap Taos, lumbering Tiguan, or frumpy Jetta for me.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Here’s the thing: VW IS relevant in any number of high volume segments (compact sedan, compact CUVs, three-row CUVs), and the product in those segments is good, if not brilliant.

    What they’re missing is trucks. How about an electric Maverick-esque model?

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    VWs make no sense. They’re cheap enough, but when they break (you won’t have to wait long), it gets Porsche stupid expensive. I can somewhat understand with Audi, but no thanks there either.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “They’re cheap enough, but when they break (you won’t have to wait long)”

      4.5 years and 65K miles here, GTI w/DSG. Still waiting.

      Oh–but I bother to maintain my car per the mfr schedule. Also, I drive it, as it was meant to be. I’m not one of those on the forums who has a 4 year old, 10K mile car that only goes to get ice cream on nice weekends.

      In 2016, VW nailed the Golf platform. Many people acknowledge it. But the world is still filled with people hating on their older VWs and thinking that their Honda leasemobiles are the paragon of excellence, despite the facts.

      Honda can go screw themselves. They put out trash now.

    • 0 avatar
      Oberkanone

      The only that broke on my TDI’s was the damn window regulators and a CD player. Extremely reliable vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        4.5 years? That’s truly amazing, but even the worst cars are good for 10 years at least, normally, NOW ADAYZ! But it’d be nice know a trans won’t send it to the scrapper shortly after that.

        All it takes is the wrong processor that nobody re-pops and it’s GAME OVER. But if you love it, yeah who cares??

        You know that a Toyota is good for 30+ years, even on it’s 2nd or 3rd trans or whatever.

        • 0 avatar
          jalop1991

          DenverMike, find me the Toyota that’s on its SECOND transmission, let alone its third.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Just in theory, OK relax. Although no automatics last forever. And now they’re sealed for life?

            But a lot depends on production figures. I’ve owned most of the Fords they tell you not to; 5.4, 6.8, 6.0 Powerstroke, E4OD, A4LD and others. Some have given me a little grief, despite my abuse and poor maintenance, but what was the question?

            And I’m not really a Ford fan, but they’ve consistently had the right product at the right time. OK now I’m rambling, but German cars are meant to be leased or keep it no longer than the warranty. Volvos too.

            Don’t get me started on English cars. Unless you want too!

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    The year was 1984. Fresh with a degree from college, young and naive working for a company, I bought my first VW Golf. A dark blue one form Jim Ellis dealership on Peachtree Industrial Blvd in Atlanta.

    It was the worst car a young man could have. Oxygen sensor lights go bad on that thing if you looked at it wrong. It stumbled when it got cold. The heater core broke down. In winter, I had to breath toxic fumes. I could not afford to replace that heater core. It took all it had after 4 miserable years for me to be able drive it to Atlanta Toyota, and trade it in for a Toyota Corolla. They gave me $1,000 for trade. That was generous. My life turned for the better from that moment on. Quit the job in two years and did my own thing since. That Corolla never gave me cause for concern. Thank-you Toyota.

    That piece of garbage VW was built somewhere in Pennsylvania. Never again have I even looked at anything VW/Audi. Yeah for me the book is shut. They never be relevant.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      you know, pmirp1, I said the reverse about Honda. I have great stories going back to the early 80s. I swore, there’s no reason to go anywhere else but Honda with my hard-earned money. Honda earned my business. I evangelized them to anyone who would listen, and my entire family followed.

      But then Honda unexpectedly slapped me in the face like a dog, and I had a wakeup call. They’re no better than anyone else. In my situation, I thought, I might as well have bought a Chrysler–I would be no worse off.

      Well, it they’re all gonna suck, I might as well get something I will really like and stop worrying about it. I poked my head into a VW dealer, and three weeks later pulled the trigger on my 2017 GTI. I figured, hey, if it has a few more unscheduled repairs than I’m used to, at least I’m having immense fun with the car.

      And then reality struck. 4.5 years and 65K miles later, I have had zero unscheduled repairs. I do maintenance on VW’s schedule, and that’s it.

      Today, I still have that GTI. A year later I bought a second one, a lightly used 2018, that my daughter drives (the off-brand dealer clearly didn’t realize the existence or value of the 6 year/72K mile factory warranty). It’s as reliable as my 2017.

      And after 20 years of Honda minivans, we got rid of the last one. In addition to our two VWs, we now have a Chrysler in the garage.

      20 years ago, this was unthinkable. But then, so was what Honda did to me back in 2009.

      The point is, it’s a big world out there and things change. VW got the Golf platform all sorted out in 2016, and I’m benefiting from that.

      Happily.

      Meanwhile, Honda builds crappy turbos that suck gas into the oil, engine-destroying variable cylinder managed V6s, etc, etc. 20 years ago they screwed up the hybrid Civic so bad, their only recourse to save face was to fix the problem in software–which simply shoved the cost over to the end user, who ended up with a car that got the same gas mileage as the cheaper non-hybrid version.

      American Honda sucks. Maybe they all suck. But American Honda sucks more.

      • 0 avatar
        pmirp1

        Yet… VW has stopped selling Golfs in America. While Civic continues to sell in huuuuuuuuggggge numbers.

        The GTI is made in Mexico while Civic Si is made in America. Yeah right, I know which one I buy.

        Golf R is irrlevant while Civic R is an Icon.

        Those facts should explain the state of affairs.

        • 0 avatar
          jalop1991

          That’s OK. I’ll base my behavior on reality. You go ahead and base your behavior on…who knows what.

          The state of affairs doesn’t exist inside your internet echo chambers.

          • 0 avatar
            pmirp1

            I am just stating facts. Nothing else. If you are hearing echos it is sound of reality.

            VW ran away from US market because their products lack quality. It is not like VW stopped selling cars in its home market or other international markets. In America, which is the toughest market of all, they can not compete with Honda and Toyota. (really they can’t even compete with Mazda nor Subaru or even the Koreans).

            VW stopped selling Golfs in America. Civic sells in huge numbers and is built in America.

            VW stopped selling Passats in America. Accord sells in huge numbers in America.

            Your personal experience may differ. But the facts remain the same.

            When it comes to sedans and cars, VW has become a niche manufacturer in US. Really no different than Ford and GM. Those two only sell their sporty cars.

          • 0 avatar
            jalop1991

            I’m stating CURRENT facts. You deny those facts while remaining in 1984.

      • 0 avatar
        Arcadia_Ego

        My experience of VW quality has been good. Bought a new 2017 Jetta that ticked the necessary boxes – manual transmission, fuel efficient, comfy enough to take from central Illinois to northern Michigan or to Canada, which we do a few times a year. I’ve now arrived at close to 100K miles with no unscheduled maintenance. Of course, having written this comment it will probably fall apart tonight, but I have been pleased with it so far.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’m on my third VW. All have been reliable. Well, the window cranks and door handles my ’81 Rabbit were fragile, but otherwise, zero issues.

      Speaking of Honda, I’ve only had one…an ’85 Civic, which was a fine car. But dealing with the Honda dealership – and this included EVERY Honda dealership in St. Louis (I shopped them all) was like dealing with the damn Mafia. Never bought another one…and never even considered one seriously until 2018, only to be confronted with some “adjusted market pricing” bulls**t. Apparently not much changed.

      So, yeah, a brand can lose you for life.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        @FreedMike – to add to what you posted: There are two reasons why I initially didn’t get a Civic Type-R either back in 2020 when I got the VW or wait for the new one and hope the VW hung together with a hope and a prayer and an exorcism.
        1. The 20″ wheels. Louisville roads were knocked to hell this past winter. I didn’t feel like keeping $2,000 in a coffee can for use every single time I bent a rim and tore up a tire.

        2. The dealer experience. I like Honda and Acura. But the dealers still have this high horse attitude that really turns me off. I understand why they don’t want their Civic Type-Rs to be used on constant test drives. They don’t want joyriders. BUT, go ahead and run my credit. I’ll leave a deposit. But I refuse to plunk down over $40,000 for a car I can’t test drive and test it on my daily commute to see how it would handle the day to day stuff. I went to one nearby Honda dealer that acted like discussing trade ins and new car pricing was a chore that he didn’t want to be bothered with. At least their service department was good until I caught them charging me for spark plugs they didn’t replace. I brought my own, better, spark plugs, but was having a tough time getting them out. I didn’t want to risk damage to the engine or the threads so as part of the next service, I brought the good plugs with me…and marked the old plugs beforehand. They never swapped them, and yet, it was on my bill.

        And then the new Civic Si pricing games haven’t changed my mind about them at all. I like their cars. I would love an Acura TLX Type-S. But dealing with the Honda family…not too sure.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          @flyersfan:
          Agreed on Honda dealers, but I think they kind of have a point on the Type R test drives. Back in the mid-90s, I sold Chevys briefly, and a Toyota dealer down the street from us let a couple of well-heeled 40-something yahoos loose in a Supra turbo. Not shockingly, they wrapped the car up, and one of them got killed. Stuff happens. After that we got REAL selective on who we let loose in Corvettes.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Volkswagen figured it out with the Tiguan and the Atlas. While neither appeals to me, they are selling them faster than they can build them (even prior to pandemic induced supply shortages).

    Everyone that I know who owns an MQB based Volkswagen (Circa 2015 onward) has been very pleased with the overall build quality and reliability. There are four in my immediate family that are 4+ years old – all have been excellent. Extend to my VW buddies, same.

    Same goes for any 2009+ Audi – they were light years better in terms of reliability.

    The risk VW runs is pushing electrification too fast by eliminating gasoline powered vehicles too soon. With the cost of raw materials for batteries going stratospheric due to both demand, lack of supply, and war constraints – many EV builders may be forced to reconsider, regardless of what various congresscritters dictate.

    This week, BMW’s CEO echoed this sentiment, reminding people that there will be a place for dino-powered vehicles for quite some time, and rushing the adoption of EVs may be counterproductive. I tend to agree.

  • avatar
    monkeydelmagico

    +1 on the Tiguan and Atlas. I would add the Taos. Nice rides and people want them.

    Bring the Amarok. Bring the ID.

  • avatar
    mtr2car1

    The mid 2010’s was peak German VW at US prices, and now I have nothing to replace my bulletproof at 75k and Fantastic 2016 Touareg. The Atlas is the same price and the interior pales in comparison.

    You could say the same thing about the Golf and Jetta and most other VW products at the time – they dumbed them down and people walked.

    The best vehicle in VW’s lineup is the Areton – it is the last of the peak VW.

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      The Arteon shares a lot with the stunning Audi A5 Sportback. And I agree, provided all of the extra tech stuff into it holds up. It is a great daily driver, huge cargo area, and with the AWD, DSG, and summer tires, it’s a big car that can move.

      One big mistake of theirs was announcing while building the new plant in Tennessee that they were going to build “Americanized” versions of their European models. And then what they churned out was a slap in the face of what they thought we wanted. That Passat only moved with heavy incentives.

      • 0 avatar
        la834

        Yes, like they didn’t learn their lesson when they built “Americanized” Rabbits in Pennsylvania in the late ’70s and ’80s. Those didn’t go over well either, and it didn’t help that the quality control wasn’t up to the previous German-built levels.

        The Arteon is basically a Euro-market Passat hatchback.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I don’t get what VW wants to be in the US.

    For a long time the strategy was German-ness at slightly premium prices. But now, as far as I can tell, it’s Toyota without the interior quality or the efficient hybrid powertrains.

    We had a rental Atlas during our last family reunion. My wife liked the way it looked. I couldn’t stand the cheapness of the interior–I really hadn’t seen something so cheap-looking since GM products circa 2005, and my abused 2016 Highlander is far, far nicer–and felt disturbed by the fact that I could smell a coolant leak from the VR6 after just 10k miles.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      What you are seeing is the long running internal struggle between VW and vw usa playing out in product offerings. The Germans are (too) proud of their products, that they championed internally and personally believe are good enough to compete anywhere. These people aren’t talking skodas either, they are Acura/lincoln/buick. Cheaper brands get old toolings in their model, with euro VW previewing what will be a skoda or developing market vw in years to come.

      Meanwhile VW usa needs new product, not previous gen, but the product needs to be in the right family form and, crucially, price point. Historically the two markets agree on neither of those things. So they are basically advocating for VW europe to give up primary engineering, manufacturing resources, and internal political clout to a bit market (by their sales) that sells their product at a lower price and content point.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    VW seems to think of itself as a smarter, cooler version of Toyota, that deserves to be the global leader in market share. On the other hand, I think Americans think of VW as a more arrogant, less reliable version of Mazda.

    • 0 avatar
      pmirp1

      The problem with VW is they became American version of GM and Ford and whatever Stellantis/Fiat/Chrysler/AMC/Jeep/Dodge is now.

      VW has no core belief. They just want to sell big numbers. Whatever it takes. Lie about diesel. Check. They run away and pay penalty.
      Jump into SUV bandwagon. Check. Run away from building American purpose Passats (read cheaper Passats).
      Run away from ICE. Check. Now trying desperately to sell electrics.

      Meanwhile, Toyota has a culture of quality. It doesn’t matter what the industry does. Toyota follows its own culture of building a vehicle as one unit, not just sum of its parts. Not after coolest gimmicks. Not after highest performance.

      Toyota does not jump on every new trend. It is slow and methodical in deploying new tech. It doesn’t care if it is not the most powerful. It just methodically builds great quality vehicles.

      VW on the other hand, is not willing to sacrifice a few cents for quality. Heck they are even willing to go to any distance, and lie. Remember dieselgate. Again the short path to success is all they are after.

      The fact a company that is build on cars has given up on cars and competing with Toyota and Honda should give one pause about purchasing any VW.

      I don’t trust their electric. I don’t trust VW. I don’t trust Audi. Porsche should seperate and run away from this VW thing as fast as it can.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Dear Herr Herb,

    Alls you gotta do to leapfrog the competition in the U.S. market is to build and market a 3-row 6-door pickup truck with a 16-inch bed.

    Trust me – I know stuff.

    Best,
    Tool

  • avatar
    redapple

    PMI>
    Right on. Agree.

  • avatar
    Qbranch

    Somehow 2 of my favorite expressions seem very appropriate…

    “Hope is not a strategy”

    “there’s never enough time to do it right, but always enough time to do it over”

  • avatar
    tedward

    I hate to break it to VW, but ev’ing everything is certainly not the smoothest path forward for US relevance. Just because they had to say that out loud coming out of dieselgate doesn’t magically make it the best path for them as a company. This isn’t Europe, they control none of the market or trends here. I’m definitely not saying they need to abandon evs, but i am saying they need to continue embracing gas powered family cars wholeheartedly and continue expanding and improving their offerings there. It really does sound like that’s not the plan reading between various lines.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      I think they are acknowledging their defeat in the traditional car business, and hoping they can make EVs work for them. Sports analogy? I guess the punt.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Or a quarterback who can’t throw, or when he does, it’s always a pick-6!

        If VW was a sports team, they’d be the Detroit Lions!

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        I don’t think so, bc they are doing better now (in the us family market) than they have in my lifetime. Its the tiguan and atlas show all day long, and it’s working. Dq’ing the regular golf and passat made sense, although not keeping a toe in the wagon market seems shortsighted given their recent success selling wagons (those alltracks were sold alongside all the refurbed tdi wagons).

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      I think VW, or any other car company, saying the way forward is mostly sticking with ICE-powered cars would get lots of blowback, not only in the US but especially in Europe, which wants to get away from gas and oil not just for environmental reasons but political ones as well (i.e. weaning themselves off of Russian-sourced fuels and funding Putin’s war machine in the process).

      I think several car companies know they need to keep on building ICE vehicles for some years to come, but know better than to say that. Only Mazda has come close to that.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        Thats undoubtedly right (the blowback) and vw really can’t be pulling that kind of agro post dieselgate. Otoh 20+EV models is a huge chunk of inventory if that actually pans out, and I don’t see how that happens without gutting the ice side.

  • avatar
    Funky D

    A VW on the grille should stand for German craftsmanship, a German driving experience, and fun (remember Fahrvergnügen?).

    My current DD will likely be my last VW for many of the reasons mentioned here. A good start on the road to recovery is put the German DNA back in the cars and remove as many breakable plastics parts out of the engine compartment.

    And bring back a convertible for petesake, you had one from 1947 until 2019.

  • avatar
    TheMrFreeze

    The last 40 years have been littered with VWs failed attempts to return to relevancy here in the US. I own a classic VW. I’ve owned two “modern” VWs and had problems with both of them. They’re a company I *really* want to like but simply can’t bring myself to buy another.

    When they introduced the 6yr/75K bumper-to-bumper warranty in 2018 I thought they were actually going to make an concerted attempt to be a player in the US market. Then they got rid of the warranty in 2020. Really? Why should I be surprised?

    The path to becoming relevant again here in the US seems simple to me. First, bring back the 6/75K bumper-to-bumper warranty so people feel comfortable taking a risk on VW quality. Second, sell the least expensive electric car in the US market, either an electric Bug or an electric Golf. That gets people talking about you and as the world’s 2nd largest automaker you can afford to do this. Third, don’t be afraid to do something INTERESTING and COOL…the world’s full of bland transportation boxes and you have such an amazing history to draw inspiration from.

    Just take a chance…you might be surprised how well it might pay off…

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      The great thing about the 6/72 warranty was that unlike everyone else’s, it was transferable to future owners if you sold it. If I bought a three-year-old 2019 VW on Craigslist, I would still have about 3 years of new-car warranty left. That does great things for residual values of your cars (or would have, had VW publicized that aspect). I’m not clear on whether VW’s current 4 year warranty is still transferrable.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    +1 on the longer warranty. If VW wants to go full [email protected] on EV vehicles without upgrading their IC variants as a bridge I see massive German bailout Euros coming there way. Take Ford for example, for every Mustang EV there are 4 Broncos/Sports and Mavericks rolling out.
    We’ve been very fortunate I suppose w/ our 07 Eos bought new. Sure some trim is loose in the interior but it’s almost 15 years old and the top has been down for alot of the time. But mechanically it’s been a gem .

    I’m interested in the new DSG Arteon, but I’m not even sure if it’s happening stateside.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    It’s been a long while since I owned a VW product.

    Are VW owners still expected to walnut blast their intake valves at every service interval?

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      You’re thinking the fanbois who say you should change your oil with every gas fill up. Cheap insurance, you know.

      No, again with the 2016 models the MQB platform anyway is rock solid–and all the nonsense got sorted out.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      DI engine cleanouts are still a thing, but since the 15 engine redesign vw has taken a huge chunk out of it. My wifes 16 gti is at 140+k miles with no carbon clean yet and i hear similar from others. Basically the put a swiss cheesed tube around the balance shaft and routed oil vapors through it on the way to the evap. Coarse droplets got spun out by centripital force and only/mostly fine vapor proceeds.

  • avatar
    Mustangfast

    “25 new electric models it wants to sell in the US by 2023”

    As in the 2023 that’s 7 months away?! From the factory not yet making even the ID4? To include models clearly not even designed? What are they smoking?

  • avatar
    sumgai1986

    Volkswagen has never appealed to me. It feels like they’ve picked a market niche where everyone else does something better.

    If I want reliable, I buy Japanese.
    If I want luxury, I buy MB or Lexus.
    If I want technology, I buy Tesla.
    If I want low price, I buy domestic or Korean.
    If I want cargo/towing, I don’t even have an option at VW.

    So why do I even need VW at this point? I don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      sumgai1986

      This is business school 101. Pick a market niche without much competition and make the best damn product you can. VW trying to catch too many rabbits at once and isn’t getting any of them.

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