By now, I’m sure you’re all mostly aware of the Dieselgate scandal that’s been plaguing Volkswagen. As it turns out, they were using defeat software to pass emissions testing in the United States on their diesel vehicles. There are now talks of fines, lawsuits, and even the company not surviving.
Volkswagen will survive. As a company, they have many different brands under their umbrella, including the extremely-profitable Porsche nameplate. Sure, their financials are going to take a big hit, but they’ll live.
When the emerge from the crisis, they’re going to be plagued with a few problems. One of those is regaining the public’s trust, especially with their diesel models. But the problems Volkswagen has aren’t limited to cheating on diesel emissions testing, but far bigger.
They sell too many different vehicles in the United States. They lack focus. Just take a look at all of the cars you can current buy from the Volkswagen nameplate today;
- Golf GTI
- Golf R
- Golf Sportwagen
- Beetle Convertible
- EOS (though that’s officially dead)
That’s a lot of cars. Now Volkswagen draws a distinction between the different Golf variants. If we were to combine them together, as well as combine the Beetles into one category, that’s still 8 different vehicles on sale in the United States.
Additionally, of all of those Volkswagen models, only two of them qualify as a crossover or SUV. The rest are cars. Additionally, all of those Golf models and variants are hatchbacks, which despite their practicality, don’t sell well in the United States.
One of the fastest-growing, smaller marques in the United States is Subaru. Here’s a look at their lineup;
- XV Crosstrek
- XV Crosstrek Hybrid
If you combine the two XV Crosstrek’s, that’s 7 different models. Yes, that’s only one less, but it’s important to also note that the WRX is basically an Impreza, but a bit sportier. Subaru makes a distinction, of course, so we’re going to count it here, but in my own mind there’s really only 6 different models.
Three of those models are considered crossovers, and the Impreza also comes in a hatchback if you want or need the extra space. Also, Subaru has one dedicated sports car in the BRZ. So their success has allowed them to play in a more niche marketplace with the BRZ.
So here’s the suggestions I have for model focus. Some of these I don’t even like suggesting, as they would be killing cars I legitimately like and would buy, but I’m an enthusiast so that makes me in the minority.
The new VW lineup should look like this;
- Beetle (coupe and convertible)
That’s it. As much as I adore the Golf, and would buy it (or a variant of it) in a heartbeat, hatchbacks just don’t sell in large enough numbers here in the United States for them to be worried about selling them here.
The Passat is growing in size enough that a car like the CC really isn’t necessary. If people want a car like that, there are other VW properties that has the car for them.
Both of the crossovers need to stay. If there is one additional crossover-style vehicle they could add that’s in the pipeline, the VW Golf Sportwagen Alltrack. Why does this 5-door Golf get a pass? Because it’s jacked up in the air to resemble a crossover, which will make it comparable to Subaru’s Outback.
VW also will need to continue spending money developing advanced hybrid systems. There’s no telling of the public will accept a VW diesel after this, so an alternative fuel saving method might be needed. Also, work should continue on bettering their gasoline engines for improved efficiency.
While quality has come a long way in the past few years, they need to continue to work to make it better. There’s still a stigma around German car ownership that exists due to a lot of people being burned in the past. How about pull a Hyundai and over a 10 year warranty? It worked for them.
Finally, don’t lose the focus on making fun to drive cars. While in the short term, I’m suggesting they end such performance machines as the GTI and Golf R in favor of more pedestrian transportation, that doesn’t mean the cars should be boring. There’s already a company that makes high quality, luxurious, basic transportation, and they’re named Toyota.
Once sales pick up, then look at bringing the Golf back into the mix. Or if VW is insistent on having a performance car, keep the GTI in the mix while nixing the rest of the Golfs.
Once VW gets focus on their product lineup, then they need to start promoting the hell out of their products. In the part of the country where I live, the Tiguan and Touareg should be plastered everywhere, and they aren’t.
Ultimately, is this the answer to fix Volkswagen’s woes? I don’t know. But they’re going to need a laser-focused plan to rebuild in the United States and this is as good of one as any.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.
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