Why Isn't Volkswagen USA Selling More Cars? First Half 2013 Sales Figures Analysis

2014 Volkswagen Golf GTI
Why Not Wait For The New GTI?
The fact that a moderate adjustment in Volkswagen USA's sales goals merits attention at all says something about the allure of the VW brand. A fiercely loyal fan base loves to talk VeeDub, and the talk is often as full of criticism as it is stocked with praise.

Rather than believing they could sell 486,000 vehicles in 2013, disappointing halfway numbers have led Volkswagen to adjust their goals downward 9.5% to 440,000, a couple thousand more vehicles than the brand managed to sell in the United States a year ago

Sales in 2013 rose 35% to 438,133, the highest-volume year since 1973 for Volkswagen USA.

Automotive News says Volkswagen dealers are pleased with the lowered expectations, because it allows them to adopt different pricing tactics. In order for a dealer to take advantage of VW HQ's stair-step bonuses, they would have needed to cut prices too drastically, had sales goals remained high. The lowered goals for overall volume won't require dealers to compete so avidly for each and every sale.

However, GoodCarBadCar is more interested in discovering how Volkswagen USA hasn't experienced the kind of growth experienced by the 16 brands which have exceeded the overall industry's 8.5% improvement, or the other eight brands which have, at the very least, sold more vehicles in the first half of 2013 than in the first half of 2012.

Click Column Headers To Sort
Source: Volkswagen
VW Model June 2013 June 2012 June % Change 6 mos. 2013 6 mos. 2012 YTD % Change
1277 2137 - 40.2% 9062 9939 - 8.8%
1169 1508 - 22.5% 6551 8986 - 27.1%
Golf R
156 447 - 65.1% 1171 1957 - 40.2%
Total Golf
2602 4092 - 36.4% 16,784 20,882 - 19.6%
Jetta Sedan
12,960 11,598 + 11.7% 70,511 72,519 - 2.8%
Jetta SportWagen
1853 2006 - 7.6% 10,785 10,684 + 0.9%
Total Jetta
14,813 13,604 + 8.9% 81,296 83,203 - 2.3%
Beetle Coupe
1771 2914 - 39.2% 12,710 12,654 + 0.4%
Beetle Convertible
2009 --- --- 8477 --- ---
Total Beetle
3780 2914 + 29.7% 21,187 12,654 + 67.4%
430 713 - 39.7% 2441 3688 - 33.8%
10,874 10,252 + 6.1% 56,119 55,065 + 1.9%
1209 1859 - 35.0% 8243 8757 - 5.9%
2452 2885 - 15.0% 15,526 14,940 + 3.9%
642 794 - 19.1% 4330 4514 - 4.1%
155 1057 - 85.3% 866 5022 - 82.8%
--- --- --- --- ---
Total 36,957
38,170 - 3.2% 206,792 208,752 - 0.9%

First, let's keep in mind that Volkswagen dealers aren't offering as many nameplates as they did a year ago. True, the Routan was always a niche player in what is now a declining category, but dealers did have Routans to sell last year. 

Exclude the Canadian-built Grand Caravan copy from the equation, and Volkswagen sales in 2013 aren't down. Indeed, the Golf, Jetta, Beetle, Eos, Passat, CC, Touareg, and Tiguan have combined for a 1.1% improvement. The Routan's disappearance accounts for the loss of 4156 sales in the first six months of this year.

2009 Volkswagen Routan white
Routan: Dead
Routan still excluded, this means Volkswagen only sold 2223 more vehicles between January and June of 2013. Given that dealers were expected to sell 48,000 more vehicles this year, a first-half improvement of just 2223 units surely spooked the bosses.

Hardtop Beetle volume is up by 56 units, but thanks to 8477 Beetle Convertible sales, overall Beetle volume is up by 8533 units, a 67% increase. Volkswagen has also sold an extra 101 Jetta SportWagens this year plus 586 extra Tiguans. 

Disappointingly, Passat volume is up by only 1054 units, a 1.9% increase, as the midsize market has turned in far greater numbers to the new Honda Accord, the new Nissan Altima, and the new Ford Fusion. The Passat sells once for every 3.7 Camrys, and besides the three other faster-selling midsize cars previously mentioned, the Chevrolet Malibu and Hyundai Sonata have already crested the 100K-unit barrier. Kia has sold 83,458 Optimas and the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger have produced 9% and 15% gains, respectively, more than enough to keep the Passat in tenth among conventional midsize sedans.

More problematically, Jetta sales have fallen. The Jetta sedan is down by 1907 units, a 2.8% decline, and the nameplate is off the pace by 2.3%. Predictably, with a new model coming soon, Golf volume has fallen, but the 20% drop (877 fewer Golfs, 2435 fewer Golf GTIs, 786 fewer Golf Rs) isn't akin to what you'll see at Toyota. 

With a new Corolla arriving shortly, sales are up 5% in 2013.

2013 Volkswagen Passat sedan
Passat: Growing Slowly
Now that the Beetle Convertible is garnering plenty of attention, Eos sales are down by 1247 units. 514 fewer copies of the CC sedan have been registered, and the Touareg's 4% decline equals 184 fewer sales.

The trend is clearly pointing the wrong direction. And if Volkswagen wasn't setting its sights so high, aiming for 800,000 annual U.S. sales by 2018, the brand's inability to outperform a banner year wouldn't be alarming. 

After all, Volkswagen only sold 154,124 vehicles in the first half of 2011. Compared with that effort, sales are up 34% this year.

But the Volkswagen brand isn't content with 400,000 sales per year. The question we now must now ask: can Volkswagen USA actually sell 440,000 vehicles in America this year? Quite clearly, they're not on pace to do so. At the current rate, 435,000 would represent a stemming of the tide.

After a 4% increase in the first quarter, a pace which would have resulted in nearly 456,000 sales at the end of the calendar year, VW USA volume slid 10.3% in April, 1.7% in May, and 3.2% in June. 

As always, much of VW's hopes are pinned on the Jetta. If the growth experienced by the Jetta nameplate in May and June - 6.8% - can be replicated throughout the second half of 2013, Volkswagen could sell 174,500 Jettas in 2013, a 4500-unit increase. Even assuming the rest of the range remains steady, this would lead to approximately 442,200 sales in 2013, slightly above their newly stated goals.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen Canada sales are up 8.6% this year even as the market's growth slowed to a 2.2% increase in the first half. Volkswagen has cut Jetta and Tiguan prices and Golf volume has slid just 7.6%.

Historical Monthly & Yearly Volkswagen Brand Sales Figures
Historical Monthly & Yearly Volkswagen Group Sales Figures
U.S. Auto Sales Brand Rankings - June 2013 YTD
U.S. Auto Sales Brand Rankings - 2012 Year End
Canada Auto Sales Brand Rankings - June 2013 YTD


  1. Cars are rather boring. German engineering/Mexica assembly?

  2. Yeah the main issue with VW is their high price tag and they just don't have the American appeal to them like a Camry.

    You can pay a bit more and get a Lexus..

    That's here problem.

  3. Nazmus Saquib8/05/2013 6:40 am

    I drove both Jetta and Passat. I felt like even though Jetta is a nice car, there are far better options out there. But for the Passat, I would say, it is an underestimated vehicle. It might not be as good as Camry or Accord or the Fusion, but it does have it's unique style.

  4. WV needs to come up with more appealing names. Who wants to drive a car named Tiguan?

  5. VW's are not reliable and expensive to repair. With this in mind why would any one waste their time on a VW considering what is out there at their price range. As they say "if you own a VW you will become friends with your service manager".

  6. Biggie Smallz12/08/2013 12:49 am

    VW needs to stop making Ugly Boxy cars. VW needs to learn how to build "reliable" engine. VW should stop making cars and start building Bicycles if VW can even build a "reliable" bicycle .. LMFAO .... German cars for people who likes to drive Ugly Boxy Unreliable POS. I remember my friends 2004 Jetta, man it used to sound like a fcuking truck

  7. This century a VW has been known for mid-market cars with premium interior creature comforts, European styling, innovative technology, and a fun driving feel. VW has been the sweet spot for those desiring more fun, style, and comfort than a Toyota but at a lower cost than a BMW.

    That said for most of the 1900's VW mass produced throw away cars and perhaps the company is going back to these roots. The
    once attractive Jetta and Passat have been beat with an ugly stick, and now look like accords or camerys. The plush interiors have disappeared, there isn't even an option to add leather on a top of the line VW Jetta. Also MIA is innovative technology, even a Ford Focus can self park and respond to voice control, features missing from most mainstream VW models. VW seems intent to re-align itself as just another econo-box maker.

  8. The "new" beetle (as opposed to the New Beetle) is hideous. That can't be helping sales.


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