After Dieselgate, Volkswagen’s reputation has been in disarray in the North America.
Volkswagen lost a staggering $14.7 BILLION dollars in Dieselgate settlements. The extreme environmentalists who wanted something economical and expensive that isn’t a Prius have now gone out and bought one.
The only people buying new VWs now are Volkswagen loyalists, Beetle enthusiasts (see also: my daddy bought me this car), and people who don’t really care about Dieselgate (which is a decent number of people, for the record). To date, Volkswagen sales have dropped nearly 20% over the last year alone.
I’ve brainstormed a plan to increase Volkswagen sales in North America. Note that this plan is to boost sales in North America, not Europe or Asia.
Step 1: Cut Volkswagen Production for North American market
Step one to my multi-step plan to fixing Volkswagen’s reputation in the United States is by phasing out production of all models at their Tennessee and Mexico plants except for the Golf GTI and Beetle. Turn production down to maybe 25% of where it stands today. Demand is down for Volkswagens, and there’s no point in building a product that has no demand.
Also, if they haven’t already, stop building diesels. They didn’t exactly fly off the shelves before Dieselgate, and they certainly won’t now. Americans view diesel powered cars as an anomaly; the only diesel vehicles in the United States are power generators, semi-trucks, and the occasional pick-up.
Step 2: Manufacture Škoda Vehicles in North America
Anyway, I propose Volkswagen produces the Škoda Fabia, Rapid, Octavia, Superb, and Kodiaq for American markets. The Fabia is basically the non-GTI Golf, the car which it’ll replace. The Rapid will replace the Jetta, and the Octavia will replace the Passat.
The Superb, meanwhile, can be marketed as a mid-size luxury car for the person who doesn’t want to take the big leap and buy an Audi A6. Given that the Octavia is based on the Passat, it can be built at the Chattanooga factory where the current Passat is built.
The Kodiaq (OK, it may need a name change to plain old “Kodiak”) can be built there as well, as it is the new Volkswagen Atlas underneath, and VW plans to build the Atlas at Chattanooga. Maybe they could build the Atlas alongside the Kodiaq, and phase out the least popular model.
I originally thought that the Škodas could be imported from Europe initially, but that would prove to be too costly due to shipping costs and the prices of cargo insurance.
Step 3: Marketing Škoda and Volkswagen
For Škoda to succeed, they need to be marketed as the dominant brand. It’d be in the best interests of VW if the connection not be made that Škoda is owned by Volkswagen. As far as dealerships, I’d require that they sell only Škodas or Volkswagens, not both.
Sitting the cars side-by-side on the same lot will lead non-car people to assume Škoda is Volkswagen, and its sales aren’t as successful as intended.
If the connection isn’t widely known, then the Škoda will sell better than Volkswagens are now. The Škoda lineup is much better looking than its German counterpart, and it doesn’t scream “VOLKSWAGEN” to the average onlooker in terms of styling.
The Problem with the Plan
The main issue with this whole plan is whether or not the American market will accept Škoda with open arms or not. In order for this plan to be profitable, Volkswagen needs to sell many more cars than before. Furthermore, they need to refresh their models every once in awhile.
The Jetta and Passat aren’t bad looking cars, but they’ve gotten boring, having been on sale for years with only minor styling changes. This plan could very well fail, and in doing so, it could cause VW to lose more money than it already has with Dieselgate.
And, keep in mind this is a very vague and loose plan. I didn’t go in depth about the logistics. I don’t know what it would cost to bring Škoda tooling to Mexico or modify what they have there. For all I know, it’ll be too costly for Volkswagen to even break even.
Maybe Škodas can’t withstand the weight of your average American, or half of one for that matter. Or, Americans will be confused by the weird curved line thing above the “S” in Škoda, and go off and buy a Honda Accord Dipstick CVT Turbo VTEC edition.