Volkswagen is seeking to close the gap between launching products in Europe and the U.S. that left customers waiting an extra year to buy the seventh-generation Golf.
“That’s the goal,” Volkswagen Group of America CEO Michael Horn said during a press preview, admitting the company needs to take a hard look at its North American product cadence. Manufacturing delays are the primary reason behind the gap in new product arrival for Volkswagen. “Mexico had to get ready for MQB,” Horn said in reference to VW’s manufacturing facility in Puebla, Mexico where the MK7 Golf will be built.
The behemoth facility is the largest of its kind in North America and with the ability to build MQB-based vehicles it will be capable of producing products for Volkswagen to market in North America at a considerable savings. The brand estimates that on a content basis, the 2015 Golf is roughly $2,200 less expensive than the previous generation model. Pricing starts at $18,815 for the limited production two-door “Launch Edition” that includes cloth seats and a manual transmission. Once those sell out, the price will increase to $19,815 including delivery.
But the ability to build MQB-based vehicles in Puebla wasn’t the only barrier that held Volkswagen back in launching the new Golf. “We had to prepare the car for [U.S.] safety standards,” Horn said.
Crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) grew to be much more grueling since Volkswagen last fielded a new Golf in North America. In 2012, the IIHS began running vehicles through a new “small overlap” crash test that continues to confound most auto makers. The test is meant to simulate crashing into a tree, light pole or head-on into another vehicle with marginal frontal contact.
SEE ALSO: 2015 Volkswagen Golf Review
Volkswagen was cautious in preparing the Golf to run through those tests, and during a media preview of the car, Volkswagen product marketing general manager Kevin Joostema said the company expects positive results, but wouldn’t divulge any specific predictions.
Seeking Improved Market Share
Grasping for stronger sales in North America, Volkswagen replaced Jonathan Browning, its North American CEO, with Michael Horn after sales sank for eight consecutive months in 2013. The Golf and its derivative models will play an important role in helping Volkswagen target North America sales growth, but key competitors like the Ford Focus and Mazda3 are still less expensive.
Horn said the compact SUV segment is most important for Volkswagen to focus on in order to grow in the U.S. market. Currently, the Tiguan fills that gap. The company is also developing a new seven-seat crossover that it plans to launch in 2016.
GALLERY: 2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI
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