Volkswagen's dealer council chief says reversing the brand's three-year sales slide and setting a new, higher annual sales baseline are essential for the health of its 652 U.S. dealers.
After watching sales dip to fewer than 350,000 units last year, Alan Brown, chairman of the Volkswagen National Dealer Advisory Council, said 450,000 to 500,000 U.S. sales should be the brand's new U.S. baseline. He also said posting higher sales this year, despite the diesel stop-sale, is "imperative" for dealers.
Brown, general manager and partner at Lewisville Volkswagen near Dallas, said VW executives earlier this year anticipated 2016 sales of around 330,000 units. Such volume "does nothing but lose Volkswagen a ton of money and puts the dealer at about half of NADA [guidelines] on return on sales. It's a train wreck for both of us."
The mismatched expectations set the stage for a contentious make meeting at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention this week. VW brand chief Herbert Diess and newly appointed North America chief Hinrich Woebcken will attend the meeting and address dealers, Brown said.
In the near term, Brown said, VW needs better pricing for the Passat midsize sedan, more inexpensive Beetles, more Tiguans and a higher allocation of the Golf SportWagen Alltrack than the 8,000 units planned for delivery to dealerships in the fourth quarter.
After the meeting, "we need fast wins right behind it," Brown said, "and that will hopefully help us start to knock down some of this drama that we've been sitting in for some time."