Volkswagen Cars: Will Volkswagen Export the Polo?

Monday, November 20, 2006

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--A newer version of the Polo is developed that will meet stringent U.S. crashworthiness and emissions requirements.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