Is Atlas-Clone Tiguan A Chance For Volkswagen To Maintain U.S. Control?
At Torque News, we’ve asked this question before, and we’ll ask it again, right now: What in the name of Filo Q. Mindbender is Volkswagen doing? Okay, so we’ve dressed up the question a bit, but, nonetheless, it stands.
Last year, about this time, Volkswagen was in the process of a daily pillory as with each dawn there seemed to be a new nasty development in the emissions cheating scandal. By this time, though, we knew the essential outlines of the scandal. For instance, it was known that Martin Winterkorn, former chief exec, might have been informed of the scandal before it became public. We also knew that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had slapped a sales hold on any unsold turbodiesel vehicles that were still on dealer lots, creating a drag on dealer profits. We also had heard that 3.0-liter V-6 vehicles, not just the 2.0-liter four-cylinder mills, were included in the scandal. And, we knew that the cheating device was just a software routine that turned the pollution control system on and off so that the turbodiesels appeared to be passing emissions testing for nitrous oxide, a major and nasty part of diesel emissions. And, we knew that Michael Horn, the popular president of VW of the U.S., was likely to be on the chopping block and dealers weren’t happy.
VW Apologizes For Dieselgate
That’s not all. Volkswagen had launched its “We’re sorry! We didn’t mean it! We hope everyone, especially our customers will forgive us!” campaign. The automaker has asked for forgiveness from everyone, including the Federation, Kirk, Spock, Picard, Number One, Counselor Troy, the Romulans and the Klingons, and probably several hundred other entities that we’ve not even thought about.
Most importantly, though, the automaker apologized to its dealer body – already upset by the handling of Horn and sales holds -- and promised to do better. Atlas was part of that pledge. Indeed, Wolfsburg even said it had learned its lesson and that, instead of foisting marketing decisions on the U.S. division, that it would let North America have its head and create its marketing campaigns, even to the point of naming vehicles. Dealers were ecstatic.
Naming vehicles is, apparently, a source of pride and contention for Volkswagen. Throughout its history, Wolfsburg has carefully controlled the names of vehicles and vehicle lines. For instance, vehicles with names starting with G are hatchbacks, and have the name Golf, while compact crossovers start with the letter T or Tiguan.
For Volkswagen to have agreed to let the U.S. subsidiary name models is remarkable. At the time this decision was announced many skeptics didn't believe it would happen. For a bit, time seemed to have proven the skeptics wrong as Volkswagen seemed to proudly announce that, after holding marketing clinics where panels rated new-car names for their impact, VW had agreed to the name Atlas for a three-row, large crossover that was aimed specifically at the American market in 2018. It was also to be a U.S.-only vehicle.