Recovered? No. Not yet. Recovering? Most assuredly.
Much of the credit for Volkswagen’s recent U.S. sales burst — September 2017 sales jumped 33 percent, year-over-year, for example — is owed to a blossoming SUV lineup. Go back a year and you’ll find the old Tiguan and now discontinued Touareg accounting for just 14 percent of Volkswagen’s U.S. sales. But Volkswagen’s 33-percent September uptick came as Volkswagen sold 8,617 SUVs. The new three-row Atlas and the second-generation Tiguan, on their own, accounted for 22 percent of Volkswagen sales last month. The old Tiguan and Touareg added another 5 percent of the brand’s volume.
But SUVs are only part of the growth equation. A big part. A vital part. A major component to be sure. But just a part.
There’s also significant growth in wagons. Yes, station wagons.
Granted, the SUVification of wagons helped bring about the major improvement in Volkswagen of America wagon sales in 2017. Volkswagen sold more than 1,000 extra wagons in September 2017 than in the same period one year ago.
How? Well, sales of the Golf SportWagen actually plummeted nearly 40 percent last month, but the Golf Alltrack — standard all-wheel-drive, cladded around its wheelarches, raised sixt-tenths of an inch — which had only just gone on sale at this time a year ago generated 1,460 September sales to go along with the 486 sales of the Golf SportWagen.
That 3-to-1 margin is not a surprising ratio after numerous months in which Volkswagen’s U.S. clientele proved to be much more willing to purchase/lease an Outback-like Golf wagon than a Legacy-like wagon. (Remember, the Outback became so popular and the Legacy wagon so unpopular that Subaru killed off the lower car in 2008.)Through the first nine months of 2017, Volkswagen of America has sold 22,171 Golf wagons in total. While Golf SportWagen volume has fallen by a quarter, that loss of 3,081 sales has been more than made up for by the near-quadrupling of Golf Alltrack volume: 13,132 Alltrack sales in total compared with 9,039 SportWagen sales.
Not surprisingly, according to Volkswagen of America, Golf Alltrack buyers choose the mid-grade trim most often. Nearly half of buyers opt for the Golf Alltrack SE. Another 35 percent stick with the entry-level S. Only one in five open their wallets for the Golf Alltrack SEL, which starts at $33,710, $7,040 more than the basic Alltrack, $11,310 more than the basic Golf SportWagen, $9,060 more than the Golf SportWagen 4Motion.
Of course, the fact that wagons are playing a role in Volkswagen’s U.S. recovery don’t make them as popular as the brand’s utility vehicles. Volkswagen sold twice as many copies of its Atlas SUV flagship as wagons in September; more than twice as many Tiguans as wagons, too.
Small [volume], but perfectly formed.