VW's SUV revolution is the key to its new-found success in the US

VW Atlas WeekenderVWThe Volkswagen Atlas SUV.

Volkswagen’s SUV revolution is taking hold.

The automaker said US sales rose 33.2% in September, over the same month in 2016, with the bulk of the growth attributed to the arrival of the new second-generation 2018 Tiguan and the all-new mid-size 2018 Atlas SUV.

According to Volkswagen, SUVs accounted for 26% of the brand’s total volume in September. While that may seem relatively unimpressive for many brands, it’s a major step in the right direction for VW.

So far in 2017, VW sales are up 9.2% with SUVs accounting for around 16.5% of the 252,456 vehicles the company has sold.

For more than a decade, the Volkswagen brand has failed to gain significant footing in the US. Even though VW has its fair share of loyalists, the company has never been able to become the high volume powerhouse it is in other parts of the world. In 2016, VW sold just 322,000 cars in the US, a mere fraction of the more than 2 million cars global rival Toyota moved during the same period.

Volkswagen Tiguan 1Hollis JohnsonThe 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan.

One of the major issues plaguing the German carmaker is its reliance on passenger cars to achieve volume. That strategy is a magnificent success in Europe, Asia, and South America, helping VW sell more than 10 million cars globally in 2016.

But in the US, it takes a competitive set of crossovers and SUVs to build real market share.

Even corporate cousin Porsche has gotten into the mix with a pair of hot-selling SUVs. The 911 might be the soul of the brand, but SUVs are paying the company’s bills. So far this year, 63% of Porsche’s US sales have been SUVs.

VW is certainly working to fix this problem. According to CEO Herbert Diess, VW’s global lineup will soon feature as many as 19 different crossovers and SUVs that will account for 40% of its worldwide sales.

Volkswagen VW Tiguan Wolfsburg 2017VolkswagenThe first generation Tiguan.

In the US, VW finally has SUVs capable of competing against the best the market has to offer. The new Tiguan and Atlas deliver the size, technology, and value US consumer look for in a mass-market SUV.

The first generation Tiguan will remain on sale as the Tiguan Limited. At $US30,000, the gen-one Tiguan couldn’t compete, but a major price cut to the low $US20k range will make it much more appetizing to buyers. Finally, VW put the Touareg out to pasture for 2018. The Touareg, a close relative of the Porsche Cayenne, was a wonderful SUV, but simply too expensive to be competitive.

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