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Future models - Volkswagen - Eos

Volkswagen plans a plethora of people cars

Wraps off: Dr Bernhard whips the covers off the Eos at Frankfurt.

VW to deliver 10 all-new models in the next five years, but cans Skoda plans for Oz

25 Oct 2005

VOLKSWAGEN will release up to 10 new model lines between now and 2010 as it attempts to focus on building vehicles people want and can afford.

"We have an explosion of new products for Australia," said Volkswagen AG chairman Dr Wolfgang Bernhard in Sydney last week.

"(Our priority is to) work hard on the cost side of the business, continue to improve quality, and from 2008 to 2010 we would like to have launched another product offensive.

"In a market where everybody is playing offensive and you only play defensive then you are gone – you are a loser.

"This is to get to new markets, get to new segments, reach new customers and to create new segments. That is what we are going to do."A light 4WD known as "Beduin" is high on the agenda – a four-door wagon offering front or all-wheel drive four-door and due for a world debut sometime during 2008.

It is based on a development of the current the Golf/new Passat platform, meaning it will have a transverse engine location using the 2.0-litre FSI and TDI four-cylinder units as well as a range of V6s.

According to Dr Bernhard, VW has dithered for more than a decade as to how to rival the likes of the Toyota RAV4.

"We’ve been working on Golf-based SUVs for a very long time, and (it) was stuck in first gear – it didn’t get anywhere," he said. "In Spring this year we jumped-started the whole process and now we are working very hard on a new compact-size SUV.

"It is a small brother of the Touareg."Speaking of the Touareg, its first facelift is coming next year – a Series II model sporting a new nose (with the corporate V-shaped grille), some cabin titivations and a revised engine line-up. The long-awaited 3.0-litre V6 TDI will probably debut in the updated model for Australia.

Two Golf spin-offs are slated for a 2007 release. The first is the long-awaited Eos four-seat convertible-hardtop, which slots between the Renault Megane CC and Saab 9-3 Convertible in size and will use a combination of Golf and Passat components including existing 2.0-litre FSI, TDI turbo-diesel and new 3.2-litre V6 FSI powerplants.

A Golf station wagon is also in the pipeline. It is expected to arrive sporting a small facelift, which should be identical to the ‘V’ grille revealed on the Mexican-made VW Jetta, due here early next year as the replacement for the slow-selling Bora.

VW is also considering its second-generation Sharan people-mover for sale in Australia. Devised off the new Passat platform, the Sharan will be built in both front and four-wheel drive configurations. It will also offer up to seven seats.

On the subject of people-movers, the long-promised Microbus is also thought to finally be on its way, although this will be a rebodied T5 Multivan rather than the car-based machine that was first mooted when the Concept Microbus was unveiled almost five years ago.

Spiralling costs and an uncertainty to the Microbus’ reception is the reason behind its "off-the-VW-shelf" commercial-vehicle underpinnings, which ironically was part of the 1950s original’s charm.

Other cars on the horizon include a dedicated sports car in the vein of Toyota’s Celica, due around 2009.

To be possibly called the Rivo, this car is expected to feature all-wheel drive as well as a supercharged and turbocharged version of VW’s smaller 1.6-litre and even 1.4-litre four-cylinder units known as ‘Twin-charged’. It will recall past fast VW icons like the 1970s Scirocco and Corrado of the early ‘90s.

A two-seater sports car in the vein of the Mazda MX-5 has been bandied about for some time, although VW will not acknowledge that such a car exists. If it comes to fruition, then don’t rule out a connection to the next-generation Polo.

Slightly larger and far-more stylish than VW’s current light-car contender, the Polo MkV is expected to also form the basis for the next-generation Skoda Fabia and the Seat Ibiza/Cordoba range.

Contrary to speculation about its impending demise, a completely redesigned Phaeton will also be introduced at this time, despite the sales struggle the 2002-vintage original has had.

"When the first Audi A8 came to the market, and you look at its numbers, the Phaeton is more successful than this first Audi A8," Dr Bernhard said.

"At this point of time you would not say the A8 was a mistake, so these things take time and you cannot judge from the first model cycle. Now (the A8) is an integral part of the Audi line-up. You never make a lot of money from those models.

"We are never going to retreat. Once you have a foothold in a market segment you never let go."Next generations of the Golf and its seven-seater Touran sibling are also scheduled to appear before 2012.

All these new models form the backbone of a revitalisation program the company is undergoing as it adjusts to the realities of cheap cars from China as consumers from more mature markets demand niche-within-niche vehicles.

"It’s not so easy (since) the markets are getting more and more fragmented. That’s what you normally see in every mature market in every mature industry," Dr Bernhard said. "So I think there is no other way to go other than move with this trend.

"The times are over when you can run three factories with the same model. Forget about it. It’s never going to happen. Because nobody wants to own a car that looks exactly like his neighbour’s car (anymore)."Dr Bernhard stressed that VW would never become reliant solely on one vehicle, as it did with the Beetle from the 1950s to the 1970s, and again with the Golf until recently.

"The Beetle times ... are never coming back – so we better learn how to deal with that (by) learning how to make different models and yet limit the risk to quality and investment risk," he said. "You will see that in the future."As a result, it is the platform-sharing strategy that was implemented by former VW boss Ferdinand Piech in the 1990s that will continue to be the future for VW, as far as Dr Bernhard sees it.

He said VW would continue to develop fuel-efficient vehicles that are in-step with the times, and he cited the success of its diesel program as well as the petrol-electric hybrid Touareg SUV collaboration with Audi and Porsche.

The company is also developing a hybrid system for the Jetta, since this car is the company’s best seller in the United States.

"We are not a luxury car-maker and don’t want to be," Dr Bernhard said. "We have to be what we are – a people’s car.

"But we cannot be ... another fish in the sea of sameness, so we have to offer something special to our customers that only VW can deliver.

"We makes dreams come true for common people."

What's coming from Volkswagen:

Touareg facelift - 2006
Eos coupe-convertible - 2007
Golf facelift - 2007
Golf wagon - 2007
Sharan II people-mover - 2007
Beduin 4WD - 2008
Microbus - 2009
Corrado sports coupe - 2009
Two-seater roadster - 2009
Phaeton II - 2010
Polo V - 2010
Golf VI - 2011
Touran II - 2011

Skoda no-go for Australia

THE man in charge of the Skoda brands worldwide, Volkswagen AG chairman Dr Wolfgang Bernhard, has poured cold water over plans to reintroduce the Czech brand to Australia next year.

"There is no plans for it now," said Dr Bernhard in Sydney last week.

This flies in the face of reports that Skoda would arrive here as early as by the middle of next year.

Skoda chairman and chief executive officer, Detlef Wittig, confirmed to GoAuto at last month’s Frankfurt motor show that Skoda would launch here with the mid-size Octavia.

"(Mr Wittig) is planning and doing the plans but we have not decided yet," he said.

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