In a market that's gone gaga for SUVs and crossovers over the last couple of years, Volkswagen USA's inability to even moderate their Tiguan and Touareg volume has stood out like a sore thumb.
Consider the first-quarter of 2015, a period in which sales of the smaller Tiguan dropped 8% and larger Touareg slid 9%. During the same three-month span, overall U.S. sales of SUVs and crossovers increased 12%, year-over-year.
U.S. Vehicle Sales Rankings By Model - April 2015 YTD
U.S. SUV/Crossover Sales Rankings By Model - April 2015 YTD
Those results partially explain why the increases reported by the Tiguan and Touareg in April 2015 were so unusual. U.S. sales of the Tiguan grew 20% from 1998 in April 2014 to 2402 in April 2015. The Touareg's 4% increase translated to a scant 22 extra units, but that's still better than the decreases reported in each of the previous four months.
Indeed, decreased Touareg volume has historically been the order of the day. Annually, U.S. Touareg sales declined in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 before rising much more slowly than it declined in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Touareg volume in 2014 was down 34% compared with 2012; down 15% compared with 2013.
Tiguan sales peaked in 2012 at 31,731 but decreased modestly in 2013 and more sharply in 2014. 137,351 have been sold since its arrival in 2008.
Historical Monthly & Yearly Volkswagen Tiguan Sales Figures
Historical Monthly & Yearly Volkswagen Touareg Sales Figures
A Mexican-built second-generation Tiguan with an available third row and a Crossblue Concept-inspired Highlander/Pilot/Explorer rival will dramatically alter the Volkswagen landscape. In the moment, even in a good month like April 2015, utility vehicles account for just 10% of Volkswagen brand sales in America. Compare that with other German brands like BMW (33%), volume brands like Toyota (26%), and other similarly-sized brands like Mazda (43%), and you see that Volkswagen simply isn't competing in the growth market.
Do April results show potential? No, these growth figures were likely nothing more than the exception to the rule. But they bring to mind Volkswagen's product plans, and the possibility that Volkswagen's next batch of SUVs nad crossovers will eventually arrive to alter the brand's U.S. portfolio. Hopefully, for VW's sake, not just in time to see the crossover craze wane.
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.