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VW Passat’s U.S. problems show world cars don’t work

Volkswagen says the poor U.S. track record of its Passat is stark proof that a one-world, one-car approach doesn’t get the job done.

VW has tried for years to carve out a respectable piece of the important U.S. mid-sized sedan market with the German-built Passat. But VW’s U.S. dealers in 2010 sold fewer than 13,000 Passat sedans and wagons combined. By comparison, VW in 2010 sold more than 66,000 Passats just in Germany, and more than 170,000 across Europe.

It works there. It hasn’t worked here. Why?

The car was failing for a number of reasons. The first was price. The euro is strong against the dollar these days. By the time the Passat was built in Emden, Germany, with German labor costs and a euro currency base for its components, and then shipped to North America, its base sticker price was $27,945, including shipping. That’s $7,000 higher than a base-model Toyota Camry.

The new U.S. Passat will have a base price of $20,765, including shipping.

The Passat is slightly smaller and less roomy inside than other mid-sized cars, including the Camry and the Hyundai Sonata. The new Passat is now on a 110.4-inch wheelbase, with 42.4 inches of front seat legroom, exceeding the Camry in both categories.

In Europe, the Passat’s base engine will deliver 120 hp. In North America, it’s 170 hp.

- Autonews

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