Volkswagen Spends Its Money On The Wrong Things

#hashtags: #Volkswagen

There has been a lot of coverage recently devoted to that scandal where Volkswagen revealed that its vehicles have been polluting like a chemical company that dumps out its waste in poor neighborhoods late at night. But this scandal seems to have taken our eye off the Volkswagen ball. I say this because the whole “cheating on diesel” thing is not Volkswagen’s only issue. It is merely one of a myriad of problems that has launched the brand into the mediocre, also-ran position where they find themselves in America today. And right now, I’m here to remind you of the largest of these problems: that they spend their money on absolutely the wrong things. The way Volkswagen chooses to allocate its resources is interesting, and I think about it constantly. If you were to also stop and think about it, you’d reach this conclusion: Volkswagen is the car company equivalent to the guy who earns $200,000 per year and still manages to fall behind on his mortgage payments. And here’s why I say that. To start, you have Volkswagen’s core. The Jetta. The Passat. The Golf. These cars are good. Well, not good in the sense that they are good cars, but good in the sense that it’s a good thing Volkswagen is dumping a lot of money into popular vehicles such as these. The midsize sedan and compact car segments are the most competitive in the industry, and it’s important to keep your vehicles fresh, or else they’ll end up like the Dodge Journey. Moving up in the Volkswagen chain, you have the Tiguan. This is not good. This car hasn’t been redesigned in like six years. It’s the oldest compact SUV on the market. It doesn’t even offer parking sensors. Fortunately, Volkswagen has admitted they plan to fully redesign this thing next year, so I’ll give them a pass. And that’s all. Those are the only legitimately competitive automobiles Volkswagen makes. So where the hell does all their money go? Let’s start with the Beetle and the Eos, which are two ridiculous vehicles that have no business remaining in this brand’s lineup. Whoever gave the green light to redesign the Beetle was insane: this is a compact car that found all of its eager buyers about six months after it first went on sale in 2000. Then they did some unique colors, and they did a convertible, and by now, everyone who wanted a Beetle a) already got one, and b) already ditched it, because it left them stranded at an AMC-24 cinema after an 8:30 p.m. showing of Bruce Almighty. And yet, they redesigned it anyway, in some vain attempt to keep people interested. At least it isn’t as bad as the Eos. While everyone is off developing SUVs and family cars that sell in the 10 zillion per year range, Volkswagen has devoted an enormous effort to creating the Eos: a small four-seater convertible with a folding hardtop that shares only a platform — and little else — with the Volkswagen Golf. If you think that’s ridiculous, consider this: though it was supposedly cancelled for 2015, the 2016 Eos starts at $33,000 with shipping. Base models have no backup camera and a manual passenger seat. And then there’s the CC. Yes, there’s still the CC: a four-seater version of the Passat that was handsome when it came out during the waning days of the Eisenhower administration. If anyone can explain to me how this vehicle is still on the market, largely unchanged since its original creation, and selling for a base price of $34,000, I would be extremely interested to hear it. The words “more money than sense” must appear in your argument at least once. And then there’s my personal favorite Volkswagen: the Touareg. In a world where all other desperate-for-sales automakers are going for midsize crossovers with affordable pricing, Volkswagen instead continues selling a high-end luxury SUV with a base price of $47,700 with shipping. For that money, you can get not only an Explorer, but also a Fiesta. And you’ll still have enough left over to buy one of those car dealership window markers in order to write “HA HA” on the exterior glass of any Touareg you encounter. Which, let’s be honest, won’t be many. If you take a look at the lineup of a successful brand, such as Honda, you’ll see some major differences. There’s a subcompact car (the Fit) that sells tremendously well. There’s a minivan (the Odyssey) that sells tremendously well. There are two always-getting-updated SUVs (the CR-V and the Pilot) that sell tremendously well. And then, finally, you have a compact car and a midsize sedan. These are the only similarities to the Volkswagen lineup. Assuming, of course, that Honda isn’t lying to us and the Odyssey is actually polluting like the train engine in Back to the Future: Part 2. I’ll never quite understand Volkswagen’s decision to do things this way. Instead of the Eos, they could’ve had a new Tiguan three years ago. Instead of the Beetle, they could’ve had a midsize SUV five years ago. Instead of the Touareg, they could’ve given the Passat and Jetta more modern technology. But instead of making the decisions I would’ve made, they just complain about how they don’t understand the U.S. market. Maybe the fumes are getting to them.