PAUL MCVEIGH

VW Golf debut may not be a big deal

Paul McVeigh is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.Paul McVeigh is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
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The debut of its latest generation Volkswagen Golf at the Paris auto show today may be the last time there is such a big hype about Europe's best-selling car.

Looking at the global picture, the Golf is now VW's third most important vehicle counted by units produced, according to Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, head of the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.

In 2005, the Golf accounted for 41 percent of VW brand's global production of nearly 2 million passenger cars, ahead of the Passat/Santana at 19 percent and the Jetta/Bora at just 6 percent. Last year, the Passat/Santana was No. 1 by production, accounting for nearly 22 percent of the brand's 5.3 million output. The Golf was second at 17.3 percent, but the Jetta/Bora was close behind at 17.1 percent.

Thr Golf's importance will decline even more in the future as the Chinese market continues to grow and as VW sales increase in North America helped by the Passat built in the automaker's new U.S. factory.

More bad news for the Golf: Mercedes-Benz with the new A class, BMW with the 1 series and models from VW Group's own Audi marque are poaching from above in the Golf's segment while value-for-money brands such as VW Group subsidiary Skoda, as well as Hyundai and Kia, are stealing sales from below.

Discounts of up to 33 percent offered on pre-registered Golfs in Germany will not help the new model, Dudenhoeffer says. Buyers of the new Golf will arrive in showrooms expecting price reductions on the new car, he says.

The Passat, not the Golf, is the car of the future for the automaker, concludes the German academic.

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