Volkswagen Cars

Friday, January 05, 2007

Whatever Happened to the Volkswagen Phaeton?

Volkswagen Phaeton

Introduced in 2002, the full sized Volkswagen Phaeton was sold in the U.S. for the 2004 and 2005 model years. When time came to introduce the 2006 models, the Phaeton was not included in VW’s line up. Two years of abysmal sales spelled the end of the Phaeton at least on American and Canadian highways. What happened to the Phaeton? Will a full sized VW ever grace its North American line up again? Read on and we’ll explore exactly what doomed the North American Phaeton.

There are many reasons why the Volkswagen Phaeton was doomed even before it hit the American market:

  1. Whoever heard of a luxury VW? In a country where Mercedes, BMW, and Audi represent German luxury, the thought of including VW in that sentence seemed all too foreign to most drivers. Ever since the Beetle, the Squareback, and the Bus held sway in the U.S., consumers have been treated to one inexpensive VW after another. Somehow, adding a luxury model to the Volkswagen mix seemed a bit of a stretch.
  2. Too expensive. With a base sticker price of $66,000 the Phaeton was priced tens of thousands of dollars above the price of the Passat, the nearest vehicle in the VW line up to the Phaeton. Many felt that this move was akin to Chevrolet selling Cadillacs in the same showroom: just what was VW thinking?
  3. Disappointing quality: One of the biggest disappointments with the VW Phaeton were its service issues. Quite frankly, the car was seen in the shop more than any car in its class. Volkswagen has struggled with electronic problems and oil issues with several models over the years and the Phaeton has been no exception. With the large number of electronic gizmos found in each model, concern about the Phaeton’s long term dependability were noised abroad before the car even reached America’s shores. Thus, the VW Phaeton already had a “problem plagued” label affixed to it, although that label is partly undeserved.
Despite the Phaeton being pulled, the car did come with some unique features not found in any other VW, and not found in similar luxury models including:

  1. A humidifier. No worrying about steaming up the windows as the car’s humidity was always under control.
  2. Four zone a/c. An air conditioning system personalized for every passenger? Yes, the Phaeton succeed at doing just that by providing separate air conditioning controls for every passenger.
  3. Full time four wheel drive. Yes, some Audis have this feature, but not many Mercedes and BMW models can make that boast. Add in 12 or 18 way power seats, automatic height leveling, and an assortment of other gizmos and it is plain to see that this was no ordinary VW!
Although the Volkswagen Phaeton failed in the North American market, the car is still being built and sold elsewhere around the world. Indeed, it is still receiving accolades from some quarters of the press, suggesting that this may not be the last we have heard from Volkswagen about the Phaeton.

Now, if VW could only remedy its humdrum image and remake its line to include a wider variety of vehicles, then we just may see the Phaeton again.
2007 Volkswagen Phaeton review

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pulling A Volkswagen Rabbit Out of the Hat

volkswagen rabbit 2007

Volkswagen Rabbit 2007

Which VW is the best selling model of all time? Well, if you answered the Beetle you can’t be faulted as it was the company’s top selling model for several decades. Recently, however, the Golf supplanted the Beetle as more than 25 million Golf models have been sold since the car was introduced during the mid 1970s. Today, the Golf is still produced but its old name – the Rabbit – is once again in use for the North American market - New 2007 Volkswagen Rabbit. This curious change in strategy has some people scratching their heads, but it may yet prove to be a marketing coup for the German automaker.

Monday, November 20, 2006

VW Touareg: The Second Chance SUV

Volkswagen took a gamble when they introduced a luxury SUV into the North American market back in 2003. In a sea of competitors, the Volkswagen Touareg had enough competition from the likes of BMW, Lexus, Cadillac, and Mercedes to give VW some heartburn. Indeed, at first the Touareg had some trouble gaining a foothold in a crowded market, but thanks to VW tenacity the 2007 Touareg amply reflects Volkswagen’s determination to propel this SUV forward. Let’s take a look at just what the newest version of VW’s SUV has to offer to you.

Not missing a beat, Volkswagen has updated the Touareg for 2007 to include changes that keep this model competitive. Yes, the standard 3.2L V6 gas engine is gone, replaced with a robust 3.6L V6 that produces 276 horses making the 2007 Volkswagen Touareg a formidable competitor with other luxury SUVs without sacrificing fuel economy. Featuring the shield grille that is now found on all other VW models, the new Touareg has received some other significant changes including:

A Potent Diesel Engine Is Back – The Touareg will once again have as an option VW’s famed twin turbocharged V10 TDI engine. Sporting 308 horses, the engine was pulled from the North American market briefly and reworked to keep up with stringent emission control changes in the U.S. market. Although even stricter controls are coming online in January 2007 that will keep the Touareg diesel out of several states, the diesel aspirated SUV will still be available in 45 states.

Better Braking – Brembo brakes are now standard and the ABS system has been refined to improve braking on soft surfaces. An anti rollover system has been improved for 2007 as well.

Fresh Styling – In addition to the now ubiquitous grille shield, the Touareg is receiving new headlights, taillights, bumpers, hood, and side mirrors.

Inside Refreshed – A new navigation system, an improved sound system, and updated seating keeps this SUV current with other luxury SUVs.

Although at first glance the Touareg’s changes seem to be minimal, Volkswagen says that more than 2300 changes have been included with the 2007 model. With a base price of just over $37,000 the Touareg competes successfully with its BMW and Mercedes counter parts price wise. Yes, by offering bi-Xenon headlights, keyless entry, integrated fog lights, active parking assist, and other amenities the Touareg effectively combines luxury with value, something few sport utility vehicles can ever hope of achieving.
Volkswagen Forum

Will Volkswagen Export the Polo?

Volkswagen has successfully marketed small cars in the US for more than 50 years. After the long reign of the Beetle, the Rabbit/Golf has successfully transported budget minded motorists all across our fruited plains. After this summer’s surge in fuel prices, demand for high mileage vehicles has soared. For VW, a great opportunity to market their fuel efficient cars has literally fallen into their laps. Yet, there is one model that is even more fuel efficient than the rest that has yet to make its appearance stateside. If Volkswagen saw fit to import this car, known as the Polo, consumers would have one more choice from Germany’s largest automaker. Read on to find out what the hold up could be.

Several years after BMW sent the MINI Cooper to the American market, VW seems content to hold the Polo back. Indeed, with fuel efficient offerings from Toyota {Yaris}, Honda {Fit}, and Nissan {Versa} now in the mix, the subcompact end of the automotive market is once again growing.

Exactly what is the Volkswagen Polo? Well, a visit to European versions of Volkswagen’s website will quickly reveal that this car is smaller and lighter than the Golf and powered by a 1.2L I4 gas engine. In addition, several diesel aspirated versions of the Polo are also being sold with fuel mileage approaching 60 mpg possible. Even the gas versions of these 3 or 5 hatchback models would likely fetch at least 35 mpg around town and up to 50 mpg on the highway.

Alas, it appears that Volkswagen isn’t going to bring the Polo to the states at least any time soon. Although the company is mum on future product plans there has been talk that the Polo could eventually find its way onto American streets, but not before the following happens:

--A newer version of the Polo is developed that will meet stringent U.S. crashworthiness and emissions requirements. Some believe that VW would only consider bringing a car of this size to the US if the diesel engines were to pass strict U.S. emissions restrictions. The upcoming group of VW engines does appear to meet these new requirements.

--The current body style of the Volkswagen Polo could be a detriment to the car’s success. Hatchbacks have never played well in the U.S. while a notchback version might succeed.

--Labor costs may not keep the Volkswagen Polo competitive. Thus, there has been talk about producing this car in Mexico for the U.S. market.

Whatever Volkswagen’s reasons for not bringing the Polo to the U.S., now would seem to be the best time to bring the car over. High gas prices and pent up demand could make the Polo a raging success, regardless of its present body style. As the saying goes: build it and they will buy it!
Volkswagen Forum