Three years ago, as the Dieselgate emissions scandal played out against a backdrop of recriminations, charges, and countercharges, a glimmer of competitive light appeared that allowed VW dealers to have the upper hand in the building, naming and marketing of VW’s then-new SUV, the Atlas.
Dealers Stage A Silent Coup
It was a coup of sorts for the 650-dealer network because usually, VW guards things like vehicle naming, marketing, and product plans quite closely. Instead, dealers were able to get a very big oar in this body of water because of the position in which the emissions scandal left the automaker. Because it had to fight so many battles simultaneously, VW’s dealers were able to approach the automaker and nail down concessions from VW.
The dealers were able to name the vehicle, which was no small feat. As noted, the automaker usually guards things like names quite closely. So, instead of the usual VW tactic of naming a new SUV with a name beginning with “T,” – Tiguan, Touareg -- dealers were able to give it a name that sounded like the SUV was designed and built for this market.
And, the dealers were able to secure the manufacturing site, as well, Chattanooga. Plus, they were able to achieve some other things, such as a $1.2 billion settlement from the automaker, as well.
New Model Is About To Reshape Sales
All in all, it was quite a victory for the dealers and the automaker, as well. Though they couldn’t have known it at the time – 2016 – they were about to reshape VW’s sales picture, as well. Atlas was to prove a success from the moment it went on sale in the summer of 2017.
Indeed, it is quite likely that the success of the three-row SUV was probably the reason that VW decided to revisit and rework a vehicle that was a decidedly slow-seller, the Tiguan. By stretching the frame about 11 inches and adding nearly 20 inches in overall length, VW was able to take a slow-seller, freshen it, and deliver a virtually new vehicle, which took off. Like the Atlas, the new Tiguan became a sales success from the time it went on sale.
Together, the Atlas and Tiguan were to become significant contributors to VW sales. In October, both SUVs made up 43 percent of VW’s sales volume. The automaker delivered 29,000 units in October. That figure represents an increase of 4.6 percent, compared to October 2017. Year-to-date sales totaled 295,228 units, an increase of 5.4 percent over 2017. SUV sales totaled 12,419 vehicles with Tiguan contributing 7,097 SUVs and Atlas totaling 4,725 crossovers, respectively.
SUV Sales Continue Strong Through October
Continuing a look at SUV sales, the total of 12,419 vehicles marked a 38 percent increase over last October when SUV sales made up only 33 percent of sales. Through October, VW noted that Tiguan was the volume leader with 74,329 vehicles. Total Atlas sales were 47,727 vehicles.
Derrick Hatami, executive vice president of sales, marketing, and after-sales for VWoA (VW of America), was enthusiastic about the lift that SUVs have given VW. “Our SUVs have given us a lift all year. As we’ve shifted the portfolio over the past year with the Atlas and the new Tiguan, we’ve been able to move fairly quickly to be more in line with demand and consumers are responding.”
Like a fish battling its way home swimming upstream, Jetta has been an anomaly. The automaker reports that Jetta has fought a trend in car sales that saw sedans continue to lose ground to SUVs. Just introduced earlier this year, the 2019 Jetta led the brand for October with sales of 10,148 units. This is up 10 percent over 2018 as the all-new 2019 Jetta continued to hit its stride with consumers.
Certified Pre-Owned Sales Inrcease
On the used side of the house, certified pre-owned (CPO) sales were up 32 percent over last year. Year-to-date, the brand as seen a 26 percent rise in CPO sales, thanks in part to a new U.S.-specific branding effort and competitive two-year or 24,000-mile – whichever occurs first – warranty for the model year 2017 or older models.