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The next-generation Volkswagen Phaeton will be offered in North America says VW product planning boss Juergen Borrmann. The first generation version of the flagship luxury sedan originally went on sale in the U.S. in 2002, but was dropped in 2006 after dismal sales results. Originally targeted at 20,000 units globally, last year VW moved just 4,500 units.
By the time the Phaeton does make its return to the U.S. market it will be entirely redesigned, with a timeline for the second generation model due out around 2013. Earlier this year VW announced an update to the current Phaeton model, which received a similar update in 2007.
The plan to reintroduce the Phaeton is part of a larger plan to grow the VW brand in the U.S., where Volkswagen aims to double its share of the marketplace by 2018 and increase profitability – although at this point any profit would be an increase as VW’s U.S. unit has posted eight consecutive losses.
CEO Martin Winterkorn firmly believes in the Phaeton, however, and it’s ability to help position VW in the marketplace. “Without our flagship Phaeton, VW wouldn’t be where we are today in terms of technology and image,” he said when the revised 2011 model was unveiled in April.
And the updated model does seem to be sparking interest in the luxury sedan with sales up 15 percent over last year and the Dreseden plant where the vehicle is produced now working at full capacity. Much of the demand, however, is coming from China with that country accounting for 70 percent of deliveries.
In the interview with Bloomberg, Borrmann did not discuss how VW aims to make a success of the Phaeton this time around. The vehicle’s failure in the U.S. market is generally blamed on the fact that it was sold in VW dealerships alongside volume and economy models, while the biggest issue was the price, with some models costing as much as $85,000.
***UPDATE*** According to VW of America Product Communications Boss Kerry Christopher, “while Volkswagen believes there are opportunities for the Phaeton in the U.S., no final decisions have been made.” He did go on to tell AutoGuide that, ” we are working closely with our Dresden colleagues to evaluate any opportunities in this market.”
GALLERY: 2011 Volkswagen Phaeton