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Back in 2004 Oprah Winfrey gave away 276 Pontiac G6s to her audience members. And like all things Oprah touches, it turned to gold – gold for Pontiac and General Motors anyway. Popularity of the car shot up overnight and now Volkswagen is hoping for a repeat performance as Oprah will reportedly give away two Routan minivans on an upcoming show.
While a Volkswagen model, the Routan is actually a Dodge Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country underneath and is built in North America at Chrysler’s Windsor, Ontario plant in Canada.
Routan sales haven’t been strong for Volkswagen as it struggles for market share in a segment that is seemingly past its prime and filled with strong and established competitors from Toyota and Honda – not to mention from Chrysler with its own version of the same vehicle.
In such a well-established vehicle segment, the Routan’s biggest problem seems to be awareness, but that will all change after millions of Americans hear Oprah say that word: Routan. Awareness for the Pontiac G6 reached 87 percent after the 2004 Oprah giveaway. The Pontiac G6 also because an immediate top search item on both Google and Yahoo. GM even said that unique visitors to the Pontiac website were six times the average in the weeks after that famous Oprah show.
Luckily for Volkswagen, meeting the surge in demand won’t be a problem as Chrysler jut announced it would not shutter its Windsor assembly plant, which had previously been on the chopping block.
Behind the Volkswagen badge on the front of the Routan minivan, everything else is pretty much standard Dodge Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country equipment. So why buy the VW?
The German automaker hopes the option of wireless internet will be enough to win over a few buyers, and they’re probably right. Thanks to Autonet Mobile, Routan passengers will be able to log on and check their Facebook, post Twitter updates or just waste away the hours on those long road trips by watching YouTube videos.
“Volkswagen is committed to delivering vehicles that epitomize and enhance our digital customers’ lifestyle, and the Routan is a modern family vehicle,” said Mark Barnes, Chief Operating Officer at Volkswagen of America. “Internet access is a clear benefit to our customers. We’re excited to work with Autonet Mobile to bring uconnect web to our Routan customers.”
“The Routan customer is looking for entertainment options beyond the traditional DVD player,” said Sterling Pratz, CEO of Autonet Mobile. “Consumers want to extend their living room lifestyle to the vehicle and want the ability to use internet-driven applications – gaming, email, IM, internet radio, and other entertainment and information services – while on the road. We’re thrilled to be a part of the revolution that is making the minivan the cool vehicle to own.”
The Routan with Wi-Fi is now available at Volkswagen’s 800 U.S. dealerships. Wi-Fi subscriptions start at $29 per month on top of an installation fee.
Official release after the jump: