Ford announced last week that is was phasing out production of virtually all of its car models for the North American market. But if that move reflects the trend sweeping over the industry – GM for example is apparently questioning the future of its Impala, it has visibly not impressed the brass at VW.
The German giant has reiterated that it intends to keep on doing what it has always done, which is to produce cars. In an interview with the Digital Trends website, Hinrich Woebcken, VW’s head in North America, said the company wants to continue “to be a full line manufacturer”.
He added that electrification could provide a boost to sedans in different categories, explaining that their relatively low coefficients of drag in comparison with SUVs allow them to offer greater range on the same electric charge, at least in theory.
But even the company’s regular combustion-engine models are not going anywhere soon. Volkswagen has just launched the new-generation Jetta – check out our review here – and it plans to produce a renewed Passat within the next few years. The new Passat will once again be designed specifically with the American market in mind, and will in fact be assembles on the MQB platform at the company’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
As for the Golf, well if Volkswagen ever even hinted that it was thinking of dropping that ever-popular model, you could expect rioting in the streets.
Volkswagen could not be clearer: sedans will remain on its roster. That does not mean the company is not devoting resources to different SUV categories and even trucks. Demand is there and the company is fully aware of the great revenue potential these segments represent.
"The shift from sedans to SUVs is a permanent one. In former times, when gas prices went up people moved back to sedans. We believe this will not happen anymore for two reasons. First, the difference in fuel economy between SUVs and sedans is not so big anymore. Second, customers do not want to give up the high seating position. I believe that trend will not reverse."
- Hinrich Woebcken, CEO, North American region for Volkswagen
This leads to an almost existential question. Once everyone is driving an SUV and enjoying that high vantage point, no one gets any benefit from it anymore. What then?