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Volkswagen's November Sales Numbers amid Uncertainty about its Future in the US

A few years back Volkswagen’s parent company in Germany announced a very, very ambitious plan for expansion that called for 800,000 units a year sold in the United States by 2018. So far this year up until the end of November Volkswagen of America’s sales tally has reached 373,689 units with just one more month left until people start making those 2014 New Year’s Resolutions that they will have broken just a week into January.

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So was this very, very, very ambitious 800,000 unit sales goal just something we should chalk up to a Volkswagen executive’s broken New Year’s resolution or is it a sign of problems ahead for the brand’s survival in the United States? After all, Volkswagen did invest over $2 billion building its all new, state of the art manufacturing site in Chattanooga, Tennessee which is currently being somewhat underutilized given the location’s clear-cut potential to build more than just the 100,000 Passat sedans it makes each year. Oddly, however, Volkswagen has announced no definite plans to build anything else there although it would be an ideal location for the long rumored 7-passenger SUV, an Americanized Tiguan to compete with the CR-V or even something like the European Polo to tackle the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa.

Well statistically there is good news about November of 2013 for VW as they sold more cars here in that month than they ever have since way back in 1973 when it was still the brand of choice for hippies. Or soon to be ex-hippies. With sales expected to cross past the 400,000 mark this year for the second time in a row, Volkswagen also managed the quite impressive feat of doubling its sales figure from 2009. Still, there are reasons we doubt that the brand can crest the 700,000 mark by 2017 unless a giant asteroid lands on Toyota City in Japan. Or on Detroit.

November sales for Volkswagen overall were well over 30,000 units sold which is impressive considering the fact that in 1993 the brand couldn’t even reach 50,000 sales for that entire year in which the suits in Germany seriously considered abandoning the U.S. market entirely. In 1993 there was the Jetta, Golf, GTI, Passat, Passat Wagon and Eurovan all of which were not at the peak from a design, build and engineering perspective. Suffice it to say that quality and customer satisfaction were not anything envied by anyone at the time besides perhaps Hyundai and Yugo.

Today, Volkswagen quality is in another league entirely with numerous models named tops in their respective categories by respected firms like J.D. Power and Associates. Also, by introducing its free maintenance offer to new buyers it is also trying to take the sting out of the cost of owning a VW which in the past has been higher than competitors. So that’s all no doubt partially why this November the Jetta found over 10,000 buyers with big brother Passat attracting over 8,000. Beetle sales overall rose an impressive 43% over last year. VW also leads the way in diesel passenger car sales in the industry currently with 21 percent of buyers overall opting for a TDI turbodiesel motor in either their Golf, Jetta, Passat, Jetta Sportwagen or Touareg.

So despite what some doomsayers claim, the concept of modern day Volkswagen abandoning the U.S. market really isn’t a consideration especially considering the investment in not only the Chattanooga manufacturing site but also keeping in mind the recent LA Auto Show unveiling of a new four model 2015 Golf lineup which will feature a GTI model, TDI diesel power, an e-Golf all electric as well as a base model with the firm’s amazingly efficient and effective 1.8 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. So while it remains to be seen if Volkswagen can hit 800,000 by 2018, we think that the automaker still has its best years in the United States ahead of it.

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