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No more Golf Car Co.

History repeating: A generation ago VW relied too heavily on the Beetle. Now models like the new Jetta should lessen its Golf dependence.

VW is keen to broaden its profile beyond the Golf, with a host of new models

9 Feb 2006

VOLKSWAGEN is keen to go beyond the “Golf Car Company” in Australia.

“The time is (for now) to sell an actual model range here,” says managing director Jutta Dierks.

In 2005, 59 per cent of VW’s record 15,782 overall vehicle sales were made up of the Golf, with the other 15 separate vehicle lines (as then defined by VFACTS) splitting the remaining 6471 units.

To help VW achieve less Golf reliance, two key new models will arrive: this month’s Jetta and an all-new Passat from April.

Furthermore the company is relying on the recently revised and expanded Polo line-up (which includes timely two hero models – a parsimonious TDI diesel and flagship GTI), as well as the refreshed New Beetle, which now also offers a TDI variant.

Support from a different direction is on its way too, in the guise of an affordable new people mover combatant.

Called the Caddy Life, it is based on the Polish-built, Golf V-based Caddy commercial vehicle and promises to be very keenly priced – perhaps well-under the $30,000 mark.

A 77kW 1.9-litre TDI turbo-diesel will also help broaden the Life’s appeal.

Also Golf-related is the R32 V6 4Motion flagship, with 184kW of power and a Haldex all-wheel drive transmission.

Facelift versions of the Touareg 4WD wagon – including a powerful new 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel similar to the unit found in Audi’s popular A6 3.0 TDI – are also due in the third quarter.

On the commercial vehicle front the big VW LT van replacement, the Crafter, is expected in Australia by year’s end, to give the Mercedes Sprinter vans a run for their money.

However there is no chance of seeing the Eos coupe-convertible, VW’s belated replacement for the Golf Cabriolet. Production delays mean a mid-’07 release is the most likely ETA.

VW refuses to disclose overall market projections for 2006, but is quietly relying on the recent and upcoming new model activity – including in market segments it has performed poorly in the past – to help it sustain the 50 per cent or so growth enjoyed last year.

“Of course we have an idea but we have never had this type of sporty sedan in this market (in the Jetta). So there is a huge potential and we are prepared for everything but we will see how it will go,” Mrs Dierks told GoAuto last week.

“We have no volume pressure from our headquarters (in Wolfsburg, Germany) so we’re actually quite free to do our thing. There is no need to push.

“One of our goals is to increase market share. With 1.6 per cent we are still a small player in the market. It is low I know but I think it is a good beginning.

“The other thing is to get the message across is that we are affordable, we have German engineering and that we offer quality for incredible value and that we have cars that are fun to drive.

Mrs Dierks believes that VW’s 46.7 per cent sales increase in 2005 was “amazing” considering it suffered stock shortages as a result of key models like Polo, Bora and Passat being in run-out phase.

“We now have to sell a model range, to really bring in Polo, Jetta and Passat and all the other cars we have in the market.”

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