Automotive: January 2011 Archives

Has VW Damaged Passat Naming and Branding?

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The new, much touted sedan that VW has to offer America will be... drum roll please... a Passat with a face lift.

VWTeaser.pngThis comes after a speculation - engineered by VW - that the new offering would be a whole new car with a new name.

The VW consumer web site had an alluring picture of a car under a sheet with the teaser "The sleeker, roomier, all-new, German-engineered 2012 ______."

Car and Driver wasn't fooled: "As to that blank, the adjectives "sleeker" and "roomier" point to the retention of the Passat name, since you can't have a sleeker and roomier ______ if there was no un-sleek and cramped ______ that came before it."

And other reporters were not impressed, "When VW announced the name to a packed room of journalists, there was a noticeable (and audible) sense that we'd all been put on for a few years."

VW2012Passat.pngThe retention of the Passat name (up until now they have called it the mysterious New Mid-Size Sedan or NMS) is due to its high brand name equity and "good reputation" in the U.S.

The more interesting news is that VW can now add "Made in the USA" to this car's sales material as the new Passats will be built in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The Passat may be a well known name but VW cars themselves are not seen as much of a bargain in the U.S.

The new car will be made more roomier and more American friendly but it still faces stiff competition from Japan.

Because the new models will be made here, however, they can be made less expensively... and this may be good news.

Nonetheless, I do not think it was a good idea for VW to deceive the press and consumers into thinking that a new model was being introduced.

In one move they may have managed to link dashed expectations to the new USA made Passat.

This is a shame, as building this car in the U.S. might make consumers warm to a name that has seemed a little exclusive - and foreign - until now.

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