Volkswagen unveiled the 2017 Golf Alltrack on Monday.
It’s the company’s latest offering in the US, where VW has struggled to sell cars.
The company’s biggest problem? It doesn’t have the right selection to appeal to American consumers.
Modern buyers crave sport utility vehicles and crossover SUVs.
Examples of popular crossover SUVs on the market include the Nissan Rogue, Toyota Rav4, and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport.
Instead of offering these vehicles, VW has largely focused on sedans. The lack of selection shows in the company’s sales performance.
VW held just 1.7% of the US market last month. That’s shabby for a mass-market brand whose contemporaries are Ford, Chevrolet, and Toyota.
In the Golf Alltrack’s marketing literature, VW describes the vehicle as one that “provides a sportier driving experience than compact SUVs”.
As much as it sounds like the crossover for which VW fans have been pining, it’s not.
The reality of the fact is that the Golf Alltrack is a station wagon with some extra ride height and exterior accents to butch up the look.
Several automakers have gone this route with varying degrees of success.
Audi has the A4 Avant-based luxury Allroad, Volvo has its V60 Cross Country and Subaru has its Outback wagon.
Of these, only the Subaru Outback can be considered a mass market sales success. Last year, Subaru sold roughly 152,000 Outbacks. The company has spent more than 20 years building up the Outback’s brand equity for it to get the market penetration it has now. Subaru is the exception, not the rule.
For all of its capabilities (a 170 horsepower turbocharged inline-four cylinder engine, six-speed DSG dual clutch transmission and a Haldex all-wheel-drive system), the Alltrack is still a souped-up stationwagon. And America’s appetite for station wagons went out the door with the VCR, the LaserDisc, and the Walkman.
Volkswagen desperately needs a blockbuster in the US and a niche stationwagon is not the win it needs.
While it does add an intriguing alternative option for prospective crossover shoppers, it’s not likely to have mass appeal.
VW needs a legitimate compact crossover to compete against the hundreds of thousands Toyota RAV4s, Honda CR-Vs and Fords Escapes the company’s competitors sell every year.
The compact crossover SUV segment accounted for roughly 14% of all car sales in the US last year. In that time, the segment grew 20% to more than 2.4 million vehicles sold.
Volkswagen’s first generation Tiguan accounted for just 36,000 of those sales. It needs the second generation Tiguan badly. And until it arrive sometime in the near future, consumers are going to be left wanting.
Volkswagen will announce pricing for the Golf Alltrack sometime before it goes on sale in the US later this year.
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