VW Introduced A New Long Tiguan Based On The Atlas Crossover Platform.

Is Atlas-Clone Tiguan A Chance For Volkswagen To Maintain U.S. Control?

The introduction of a longer Tiguan at the Detroit Auto Show has some wondering whether VW will ever make good on its promise to let the U.S. handle its own marketing.

Apparently having crossed a line the researchers couldn't support, the group of West Virginia University researchers shared its findings with the Environmental Protection Agency that looked at the data and a few months later confronted VW with the data and findings. The environmental agency told VW that its products couldn't pass emissions tests and slapped the automaker with a Notice of Violation in September 2015. And, the rest, as the saying goes, is history. Dieselgate has become a household word, though not the type the automaker likes.

The key reason this was brought up here was to show the lengths that Wolfsburg would go to prove its point. The point was that it wanted to lead -- even create -- a market and demand. It could have, provided someone didn’t look too closely.

Moving to the Atlas/Tiguan issue. As is pretty evident, Wolfsburg seems to have a problem if it is not in control of everything. The parent automaker had some pretty harsh times following the Sept. 25, 2015, revelation that it was a diesel cheat. Wounded not so much by the news of the diesel fraud but by the fact that it was caught, Wolfsburg started to apologize to any audience that would listen. And it did apologize and apologize and apologize, apparently finally realizing no one was listening – and they still are apologizing and still no one listens.

Why would people listen in the first place? You see, things came out during the probe into the Dieselgate scam that were damning. For instance, VW’s engineering team decided to trash what could have been the best method of controlling NOx emissions, using Blue doping (urea formaldehyde), a process licensed by Mercedes-Benz. However, the team chose a poor control system.

They used an unworkable solution (trap reburning with no catalyst). That was why they implemented the cheat device. It was also why VW management kept it in place until the automaker was found out.

Is This A Stretch?

Now, if you have an engineering staff willing to do something that is clearly beyond the pale of legality, is it another stretch to think that VW would knowingly market the new and improved Tiguan to compete with -- and perhaps sink -- Atlas in the U.S.? Do you think that Wolfsburg might tilt things toward the Tiguan and away from Atlas? If the past is prolog anywhere, it is in Volkswagen. That appears to be why it is willing to counter-market against its own subsidiary's product with another so clearly aimed at the American market.

This conclusion is pretty evident. Some in VW must think it is a no-brainer. They must believe it is an easy way to get control back. Maybe they skipped basic Marketing 101 the day they discussed competing against your own products, who knows? What is more likely known is this, once the genie is out of the bottle, it isn't going back inside, at least no willingly. How much damage will this counter-selling do? That’s an unknown. More important, though for those who are pushing Tiguan, as "the Atlas killer," is the question, will it work? Apparently, they think it will, though, it is a rather myopic view that is more likely to harm both Tiguan and Atlas, in the long run than give Wolfsburg the clear-cut win it thinks it will obain.

The bottom line is this: if past is prolog, things may not work out as neatly as some in Wolfsburg believe they will. Dieselgate certainly has proven catastrophic for VW and it may just be that the counter-marketing push may work out the same way. Only time will tell if it will work or not.

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Comments

I get that this is an opinion column, but the comparison between the Tiguan and Atlas is incorrect. While the Tiguan has 3 rows it does not compete with the Atlas. It's a compact vehicle with its optional 3rd row being for occasional kid duty. Think of the two has a Nissan Rogue (which also offers 3 rows) and a Nissan Pathfinder. This makes me doubt any other points in this column because the author doesn't even understand the basic differences between the models. Instead, using this false narrative that VWoA is being somehow undercut by The Volkswagen Group. Please understand what you're writing about before publishing articles that have no basis of fact.
I have to differ with you -- a third seat does not an argument make. Let's look at a couple of things. First of all, Wolfsburg admitted, when it turned over marketing chores for America to VWoA, that it really didn't know how to market to the U.S., let alone build a competitive model in the SUV space. With that said -- and understanding that fact -- it is not far-fetched to surmise that VW would likely believe that a 10-inch longer Tiguan would be a competitive SUV in the U.S. Further, it isn't far from reality to point out that the longer Tiguan was announced at NAIAS after VWoA announced the R-Line update for Atlas and that the announcement for Tiguan made a rather large deal about the third rear seat. Now, you are correct about the size of the long Tiguan. It is about the size of the Audi Q5 or Rogue but, by the same token, it is built using the same platform that is used for Atlas, down to the wheelbase. So, you have a long Tiguan, using the same wheelbase as found on the Atlas, offered with three rows. To Wolfsburg, it is the perfect-sized SUV for any market. You see, there is a certain myopia in Europe that says SUVs have to be a certain size, usually shorter and smaller than their U.S. counterparts. The size difference may only be inches, as in the case of the Audi Q7, but the smaller sizes used in Europe are generally looked upon as the proper sizes for SUVs and larger crossovers. You also argue that the long Tiguan, a vehicle with a 185.2-inch overall -- 15.4 feet -- is a compact. I submit that it is closer to full-sized than you think. After all, the Atlas is 16.5 feet long, about a foot longer than the long Tiguan. Again, the long Tiguan is Europe's idea of an SUV or crossover, for the most part. My argument points out that given VW's penchant for believing that if it isn't "invented here," as in Wolfsburg and nowhere else -- then it is not valid is a feeling the runs throughout the automaker. My references to the Dieselgate fiasco point this out graphically. Indeed, the emissions rigging scandal owed is piquancy to the "NIH" syndrome. Because the diesel wasn't going to use a "proper" VW solution, then it was unacceptable and had to be changed and made proper for the automaker. Given this argument, it is not hard to assume that Wolfsburg believes it can reassert itself as the marketing leader of the automaker, taking it back from Herndon because it is proper for VW. I could go on, but I will wrap this up with a statement that I do follow vehicles, especially VWs, Audis and related cars and crossovers, quite closely. And, given a very long career as an automotive writer who does keep up with vehicles and technology, I believe that your conclusion is wrong as I do "understand" what I am talking about when I write about a topic. My piece was my opinion and I will stand by my statements. You, of course, are entitled to your opinion, as well. As they say, that's what makes a car race.

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