Is Atlas-Clone Tiguan A Chance For Volkswagen To Maintain U.S. Control?
The Atlas was promised to VW of America (VWoA), a move that was applauded by dealers and other observers in the auto world, including the editors at Torque News. Everything looked totally legit, too. The usual round of press events, including a huge sendoff bash announcing the Atlas to the world and its special place in the VW hierarchy as the only vehicle, developed, named and marketed by a subsidiary. VW touted the Atlas as a vehicle that aimed at the heart of the American market. And, the automaker announced that since American marketers understood the U.S. market better than any Wolfsburg specialist VWoA specialists would shape its future.
Atlas Marketers Get To Work
Once the San Diego launch festivities ended, VWoA marketers went to work on sales strategies for the three-row crossover. Everything seemed set for the future. VWoA apparently expected Atlas to be the first of an exclusive set of models, designed for and by Americans. All was well as dealers waited for the buildout to begin in Chattanooga. The manufacturing team started filling the pipeline a couple of weeks ago, again to huge fanfares, speeches, dignitaries and the whole shooting match.
To some, it all seemed too good to be true; maybe it has been too good. Wolfsburg looked to be easing the reins, but was it really easing them or was it practicing another form of deceit?
We doubt that Volkswagen looks at it that way. However, we are not privy to the private water-cooler and coffee-fueled conversations that may be happening all over Wolfsburg, VW's world headquarters. However, knowing VW as we do, though we had hoped Wolfsburg had promised to ease up on the reins, we also knew that if might never let go of what it perceives as its prerogatives.
A couple of colliding coincidences seem to prove that VW's words weren't worth the paper they weren't printed on, either. First, the North America International Auto Show in Detroit was about to occur. Apparently, VW thought it might be a good place to drop its bomb shell. And, drop, the automaker did. While VWoA, which had formally introduced the Atlas with its attendant fanfare weeks ago, was limited to announcing a dress-up version of the Atlas, VW was able to use NAIAS gut-punched VWoA with a new, larger Tiguan.
Wolfsburg was able to grab every news cycle this week with its new three-row crossover, leaving VWoA, way out on a limb with nothing for cover. The parent automaker decided to add 10 inches to the wheelbase, giving Tiguan the same specs as the Atlas. Suddenly, Wolfsburg pulled the rug out from under VWoA. Wolfsburg gave lip service to what seemed implicit in its promise that Atlas would have the U.S. market to itself. Now, it turns out, VW has decided to show it is still the big dog in the house with an Atlas clone named Tiguan.
VW built the new Tiguan using the same MQB platform that forms the underpinnings of the Atlas. The configurations of each vehicle were almost identical, as was base engine availability.