Will Volkswagen’s New SUVs Finally Provide A Winning US Formula? – Forbes

Posted: Monday, May 29, 2017

Volkswagen’s new Atlas SUV at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The automotive world throws up some weird imponderables.

How is it that Lexus sells high price premium vehicles in the U.S. and steals sales from the Germans, but struggles in Europe with the same ones?

How can Honda sell the Fit in the U.S. as a sporty, trendy little car beloved of the young, but find that it is the vehicle of choice for Europe’s senior citizens? Can changing its name from Jazz to Fit in the U.S. make that much difference?

And the greatest imponderable of all; why does Volkswagen, close to being the world’s top selling carmaker, struggle in the U.S.?

The obvious answer is that VW doesn’t have the right vehicles at the right prices, but it has known that for years and still can’t turn its performance around. The dieselgate scandal hasn’t helped and perhaps it is a measure of its U.S. failure that marginal Subaru sold 615,000 vehicles in the U.S. last year compared with VW’s 323,000.

Dave Sullivan, Detroit-based analyst at AutoPacific, expects steady progress for VW’s U.S. sales, which should jump to just under 460,000 by 2020, before flattening out to 450,000 by 2022.

Volkswagen introduces the new Tiguan SUV at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

VW is beefing up its product line with the seven-seat Atlas and long-wheel base Tiguan SUVs this year. A redesigned Touareg SUV is scheduled for 2019 and a small SUV too.

Sullivan said VW’s sales last year were heavily dependent on fleet sales and price cutting.

And, surprising to this European, mighty VW is almost in the minnow category in the U.S.

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