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http://www.autoextremist.com/page2.shtml#Rant
Quote, originally posted by peter m. delorenzo »
Has VW become irrelevant in the U.S. market?
Detroit. As Wolfgang Bernhard gets his rock star welcome from the adoring media this week in Germany at the Frankfurt Auto Show, he made it clear that he is applying the same formula at VW that he used to such great effect at the Chrysler Group in Detroit with his pal Dieter Zetsche - cut costs, accelerate the development of new, edgier models and improve quality. And since those two executed that formula so expertly over here on Chrysler's behalf, there's no reason to believe that Bernhard won't work his magic for VW too.
But VW isn't Chrysler (which some would argue is a very good thing) and I have some deep doubts that a "miracle" is capable of occurring for VW in this market. Why? Let's forget the VW legacy from the '60s and the whole Beetle nostalgia trip thing for a moment, because the game has changed in the U.S. and I'm not so sure VW is equipped to compete.
VW almost single-handedly ran its brand into the ground in this country in a series of missteps that would have been comical - if they weren't so painfully true. After reinventing themselves as a youthful brand a few years ago with a hip ad campaign complete with hip, ubiquitous sound track, they were wildly successful at drawing young buyers into their fold - and VW became cool again literally overnight.
But there was one huge problem with that burgeoning marketing success. After luring the young buyers in, VW managed to unleash a series of quality problems on their cars that proceeded to turn those same buyers off - driving them away from the brand in droves and into the waiting arms of such other auto companies as Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia and Subaru. For many of these buyers, their sour ownership experience with VW was the end of the innocence - and they would not trust their money again based on a flashy ad campaign or marketing pitch. VW had blown a golden opportunity.
But the ineptitude didn't stop there, because Ferdinand Piech, then VW's chairman and now chairman of the all-powerful VW Supervisory Board, decided that what VW absolutely needed more than anything else in the world was to go up-market and compete with Mercedes-Benz and BMW in the U.S. and around the world. This of course flew in the face of its own premium Audi division in the U.S., for starters, but Piech would not be denied - and he committed countless company resources to the task, which in turn had the effect of taking his company's collective eye off of the ball.
The result? Besides the worldwide sales disaster that the VW Phaeton became, VW dropped the ball on its mainstream products. The 5th generation Golf received a tepid response from the ordinarily gaga German driving public and for the first time ever VW was forced to offer the car with incentives in its home market. On top of that, all of VW's newly revised passenger car products - the Golf, Jetta and Passat - would be as much as two years late in getting here, which had VW's U.S. dealers a****ectic. All of these things may have been able to be dealt with in the old days of VW, when it was the attractive "alternative" German import on the American scene. But that was many moons ago. Now VW finds itself fighting against a horde of Japanese and Korean competitors for shelf space in the U.S. market, not to mention the domestic manufacturers, BMW and even its own Audi division.
And when it comes down to it, what exactly is VW's raison d'etre these days anyway?
Is VW the attractive "alternative" import choice for America's car buyers? Not any longer. There are so many car companies fighting for that role now VW is getting lost in the shuffle.
Is it the "premium" yet affordable imported brand? The short answer? No. Car companies are lining up to play that part in the U.S. too - and VW is not only operating at the high end of the pricing in this segment, it finds itself being just another player in an overly crowded field.
Is VW a performance import brand? No, it can't claim that persona either. It has only dabbled with performance over the years and only sporadically too (GTI anyone?).
In the end, VW has danced around the affordability threshold for years with diminishing success. It hasn't pursued developing a performance persona that had any lengthy, consistent credibility. And it's finding that its role as the hip, premium, German alternative brand is being usurped by any number of new (and old) players in the market - including Audi at the lower end of the premium segment with its new A3.
Whether it's the counter-culture '60s persona or the hip wheels of-the-moment that it occupied for a nanosecond - the "old days" will never return for VW. There are too many excellent Japanese and Korean contenders either already in market or on the way - and even the U.S. manufacturers are getting deadly serious about competing in the car business again.
VW can't compete on price, it hasn't exactly set the world on fire with its design and engineering prowess and its quality reputation has left a bitter aftertaste in the mouths of thousands of former owners who won't be back.
VW has floundered and flailed about in the U.S. market for so long now that even they don't know what they stand for anymore.
Taking all of that into account, there may be only room for one premium German alternative that isn't a BMW or Mercedes-Benz in this market - and Audi seems much better equipped to fulfill that role than VW does.
And no matter how many hot new products Wolfgang Bernhard comes up with over the next three years, it may not be enough to move the needle in VW's favor.
Thanks for listening, see you next Wednesday.
 

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*waits for VW fanboy backlash*
*makes some popcorn*
 

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Re: (cougar)

Quote, originally posted by cougar »
*waits for VW fanboy backlash*
*makes some popcorn*

No VW fanboy is going to be so blind to defend this. That article is absolutely spot on. What has VW done so far since the record gas prices ?
TDIs are more fun to drive than hybrids but you will never hear VW say that. Theyd rather throw football and run into passats.
 

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Re: (juventuss)

Quote, originally posted by juventuss »

TDIs are more fun to drive than hybrids but you will never hear VW say that. Theyd rather throw football and run into passats.

Yeah, I never got that commercial either.
 

· Get Off My Lawn!!!
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Where do I go to sue DeLorenzo for plagiarism?

And, while it's on the table in this thread, I'm wondering the same thing. Namely, what in the wide wide world of sports is that "pedestrian safety system" Passat teevee spot supposed to be demonstrating? Extra-thin and bouncy sheet steel? Hidden padding on the hood? Daring deletion of a standup hood ornament? WHAT???
Inquiring minds are dying to know....



Modified by vwlarry at 11:47 AM 9-14-2005
 

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Re: autoextremist: "Has VW become irrelevant in the U.S. market?" (username)

Since nobody asked, I'd say yes and no. Yes because they let their products languish too long without updates and the attempt to take the brand upmarket was simply retarded. I think diesel could be their saving grace, especially if can meet tier II regs. They should get as many of their best engineers working on that as possible. Also, if the GTI is as good as all the mags are saying, it will provide a big lift and lots of renewed interest.
 

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Re: autoextremist: "Has VW become irrelevant in the U.S. market?" (Rad Red Brick)

Quote, originally posted by Rad Red Brick »
Since nobody asked, I'd say yes and no. Yes because they let their products languish too long without updates and the attempt to take the brand upmarket was simply retarded. I think diesel could be their saving grace, especially if can meet tier II regs. They should get as many of their best engineers working on that as possible. Also, if the GTI is as good as all the mags are saying, it will provide a big lift and lots of renewed interest.

but, to whom? the several thousand that buy GTIs a year? Maybe the Eos will help their image, but even then, its a niche car. They needed a Jetta and Passat to make everyone turn their heads and say "wow, what is that?"...I think they failed. They have both grown on me, but they're still kind of anonymous and not something your average Joe would be inclined to turn his head to. They seem to be following in GM's footsteps...great vehicles but no "wow" effect, nothing that really just stands out and out-does the competition.
 

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Re: (cougar)

Quote, originally posted by cougar »
*waits for VW fanboy backlash*

*waits for the typical VW vultures to swoop down and spread eternal damnation*

I've been saying for years now that VW is in a unique place here in the U.S. and has been for a LONG time (some 20 years) being the only entry-level european brand in the U.S. that remains after Renault, Peugeot, Fiat, Alfa and others all packed up and left. We'll have to wait and see if VW can continue to survive in this market but VW's situation as far as positioning goes is by no means new in this market.
At a basic level if VW were to fix the quality issues and get the right products in the marketplace on time and give their marketing major jolt they could continue to do just fine so long as they are profitable and there is the rub. If currency issues and costs can't be hedged and reduced then VW may not be able to survive here. The moonraker project is largely put together to work on a U.S. built component platform to build cars here and reduce those currency and cost issues. We'll see...
- jamie
 

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Re: (juventuss)

Quote, originally posted by juventuss »
TDIs are more fun to drive than hybrids but you will never hear VW say that. Theyd rather throw football and run into passats.

Didn't they just hire the folks from the ingenious Mini ads?
I say do one at a gas station, with lines for the gas pumps but no line for diesel. Then show the price, and have the gas price keep going up. Show some unfortunate soul in a 44 gallon GM truck filling up and just show the expression on his face.

Then show the TDI owner (taking much less time) filling up and smiling the whole way.
 

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Re: (juice)

Quote, originally posted by juice »

Didn't they just hire the folks from the ingenious Mini ads?
I say do one at a gas station, with lines for the gas pumps but no line for diesel. Then show the price, and have the gas price keep going up. Show some unfortunate soul in a 44 gallon GM truck filling up and just show the expression on his face.

Then show the TDI owner (taking much less time) filling up and smiling the whole way.

...and end the spot by showing him passing the same station repeated times at obviously different dates while the same gassers are there filling up again.
I like it. http://****************.com/smile/emthup.gif
 

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Re: ([email protected])

Quote, originally posted by [email protected] »
...VW is in a unique place here in the U.S. and has been for a LONG time (some 20 years) being the only entry-level european brand in the U.S...

Which means absolutely, frigging nothing anymore.

Once upon a time there was a general American impression that a European car was something a bit more special than a Japanese or American car. I think those days are long over. With a slew of Japanese premium brands that are considered as aspirational as the Europeans and the growing perception that the quality coming out of Germany is, well... crap... VW can't market itself as an affordable alternative to BMW anymore. They have to realize that they are competing directly on a global level within North America. They need to be perceived as something special and affordable against Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and now even GM, Ford, and Chrysler, as well as being an alternative to BMW or even Mercedes.
 

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Re: autoextremist: "Has VW become irrelevant in the U.S. market?" (username)

Great article - just reinforces what the real[\b] car people here on Vortex have been saying. VW took their eyes off the game and especially in the North American market they have too long a product update cycle and dealers that in the majoority of cases simply do not care. I hope they turn around, focus and execute as we know they can, if not VW could become the Oldsmobile of VAG group here in North America.
 

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Re: ([email protected])

"*waits for the typical VW vultures to swoop down and spread eternal damnation*"
I sincerely hope that you're not lumping everyone who criticizes VW into the "vulture" categorization. Speaking for mydamnself, Jamie, I don't consider myself a "vulture" of any stripe. I'm ferdamnedsure a critic, as well as quite a few other caring VW enthusiasts who see things gone haywire at their favorite carmaker, and won't sit by and be politely quiet about it. They're in a mess, and they don't seem all that serious about addressing it. You know me well enough, Jamie, at least when it comes to my personal longstanding affection for Volkswagen, that it breaks my heart to see them floundering in what is perhaps the worst crisis they've (VWoA) experienced in a decades-long series of crises. I used to be a Polyanna (what's the term now...Fanboy?
) about VW's uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but this time it's no laughing matter, IMO. Time is running short for them in America, and nobody seems to really know how to fix things at VW.
If that's "spreading eternal damnation", then so be it. From my POV, it is more akin to the consternation and heartbreak of one who is witnessing an old and true friend slowly self-destruct.
 
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