Some big changes at Volkswagen of America this week, with executive leadership heads rolling to account for the current VW sales slump and steep down-trend.
This is unfortunate, but just a cost of doing business. The previous acting chief doubled sales in 24 months, which is pretty astounding until you realize how low VW of America's sales actually were.
But what is the root cause?
They are many and varied - but it comes down to the dated, extremely boring and overpriced US product portfolio.
As many of you may know, I like to play with car configurators online.
It uncovers un-known details about the options packages, pricing, and other cool goodies that might not be in the press packs of new cars.
It also shows how each manufacturer is doing in terms of the "Visualization" technology, or CGI for short.
Something that lets you see the car you want to buy.
A really good example is the BMW i8 configurator.
Bad examples are too many to name, but the Wraith configurator only shows three exterior angles - for example. For a $300,000 purchase, most buyers will want more of a concrete vision of the car's appearance.
Of course, even a $15,000 car purchase is a huge decision for some people. It is carefully researched and considered before executing the idea.
The fastest way? "Seeing is believing"
So, back to VW USA.
Newest product in US market:- Beetle GSR / Beetle R-Line Cabrio
- Number of direct models that have been replaced in other markets, but are still on sale here: 10-plus.
2013 Volkswagen Beetle GSR Gallery
The model line is dull and old, with barely anything exciting to select.
Would you pay to own any of these cars? A $36,000 Passat with crummy halogen reflector headlights?
The Touareg R-line is new this year, but the truck is about five-years beyond its sell-by dates inside and out.
Sorry for the harsh critiques, but looking at the hideous Jetta Sportwagen makes my eyes roll back into my head. Hideous.
2014 Beetle R Convertible
This is what VW thinks Americans want? An over-bloated Corolla wagon knock-off, with reliability to shame a Cavalier and pricing that hits $30,000 with a radio and power locks?
In short, the VW USA 2013 model line is about as fun as taking the bus or subway. Less fun than a taxicab.
I took to photoshop to create the only current VW I would consider owning: the Passat 3.6 SEL.
Even heavily de-contented, cheap and nasty inside: this front-drive car has a $37,000 price --- before all the exterior speculative renderings.
The original wheels, by the way, are the only available 18-inch style. They look like roller blade wheels, adding to the '98 Toyota Corolla' appearance of the entire Volkswagen USA line.
What is the delay getting cars launched at the same time here and Europe? A two year lag for Golf 7, with no US arrival in sight for 2014?
With cars this boring and overpriced: No wonder USA VW sales are back to barely blipping the radar.