Volkswagen (VLKAY.PK) has been having some issues of late in the United States, and while its estimates for its diesel sales in 2013 proved to be too conservative — the popularity of the TDI line surpassed even VW’s own projections — the rest of the lineup has been leaving something to be desired against renewed competition.
Perhaps buoyed by the success of Toyota’s (NYSE:TM) Camry or Honda’s (NYSE:HM) Accord — two decent cars that will get you where you need to go but are a part of the definition of “simple” — Volkswagen’s latest offerings haven’t held the same kind of character that the brand has been able to rely on in the past. The new Jetta and Passat, two of VW’s biggest sellers in the States, are both nice cars, but they’re sleepy and, in comparison to some hopped-up competition from General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Ford (NYSE:F), decidedly dated looking.
VW knows it and has been shuffling its executives around in its North American operations to address the issue. Additionally, it will be some closer attention to some of its most important models.
First, the Jetta Sportwagen, for next year, will be joining the new Golf family, leaving the Jetta to serve alone as a sedan. The MkVII generation Golf will be introduced later this year first in GTI form followed by a conventional Golf, the electric e-Golf, and the Golf SportWagen early next year.
While the Golf is getting all sorts of attention, VW isn’t completely leaving the Jetta in the cold. Autoblog spoke to Vinay Shahani, the company’s vice president of marketing, who said that a new, refreshed Jetta will be revealed before the end of this year, though he noted that it will not be an entirely new vehicle, just a mid-cycle refresh. Don’t expect anything drastic — we’ll likely see some cosmetic adjustments, new wheel options, and new paint colors.
However, Shahani isn’t concerned about the new Golf line eating into sales of the refreshed Jetta. Volswagen believes that the Jetta is a complementary model to the Golf and that the “hatchback [Golf] consumers rarely jump to sedans,” per Autoblog.
It will be interesting to see how the Golf family evolves. It will be joined by the intense Golf R, which in its new 2015 trim is expected to make nearly 300 horsepower.