Why VW will not sell Polo in the U.S.
|Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.|
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Volkswagen brand's global sales boss, Juergen Stackmann, says the automaker has no plans to add its new Polo subcompact hatchback to a U.S. lineup dominated by SUVs and sedans.
The price level of the segment in America is "ridiculously low," Stackmann told me on the sidelines of the Polo's unveiling in Berlin on Friday.
"It doesn't make too much sense for us to bring a car like this, which has the substance of a class higher, into a segment that is so price driven in America," he said.
Stackmann said that VW is happy that its entry model in the U.S. is the Golf compact car because half of the automaker’s U.S. sales for the model line come from the GTI version that starts at $25,595.
"This is essentially where we start [in the U.S.]," he said. "Therefore, it makes little business sense to bring the Polo to the U.S. currently."
The Polo's starting price in Germany will be 12,975 euros, which would be about $14,500 in the U.S.
Stackmann said VW brand focuses us on two segments in particular in the U.S. "Our strategy for the U.S. will be SUV driven with the Atlas and Tiguan and there are two more coming. And we will also have sedans. That mean we will compete in the segments that really make volume and business sense in the U.S."
One of those two forthcoming SUVs is expected to be a Golf-sized crossover based on the T-Roc concept shown at the 2014 Geneva auto show. With design completed, a global launch is expected within the next two years. VW’s U.S. dealers want a competitor for models such as the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and Buick Encore, but U.S. sales have yet to receive the green light. If the compact crossover is approved, it is expected to arrive as early as 2019.
That falls in line nicely with VW’s plans to offer 19 SUVs globally by 2020, at which time those models would represent 40 percent of the automaker’s lineup.
The sixth-generation Polo will go on sale in Europe in October. It is wider and longer than the current model and and will offer driver assistance systems from VW's larger and more expensive Passat and Golf models. These will include a lane change system with blind spot detection and rear traffic alert, a semi-automated parking assistance system for exiting parking spaces and a maneuvering function that provides automatic protection from any bumps while parking.