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Volkswagen Vento vetoed for Oz

Polo with a boot: The VW Vento is no-go for Australia.

VW believes there isn’t sufficient volume to justify importing the Polo sedan

Volkswagen logo30 Nov 2010

VOLKSWAGEN has confirmed that the Polo four-door sedan is a non-starter for Australia due to the relatively small market for three-box light cars.

Other factors cited include model complexity and the introduction of a keener-priced Jetta line-up when the new model appears later next year, according to Volkswagen Group Australia (VGA) managing director Anke Koeckler, speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the Polo GTI in Adelaide.

“We have been visiting the Polo sedan. It was presented to us a couple of weeks ago,” Ms Koeckler said.

“But so far there are no plans to bring this car into Australia. I think our model range right now is wide enough … and we have to make sure that the market is big enough and that there is enough sales potential behind a car like that.”

As revealed in GoAuto Media last month, VGA is planning to introduce cheaper petrol versions of the Mk6 Jetta in the last quarter of 2011, in 90TSI (1.4-litre turbo petrol) and possibly 77TSI (1.2-litre turbo petrol) variations – resulting in low-to-mid $20,000 starting prices.

3 center imageFrom top: Volkswagen Vento, Volkswagen Group Australia managing director Anke Koeckler with the Polo GTI, and Golf GTD.

This is in contrast to the current Jetta’s strategy, which kicks off from $28,990 for the diesel-powered 77TDI, while the cheapest petrol-powered Mk5 Jetta today is the $30,990 118TSI.

“We already have a very good product in Jetta, and the new Jetta will also have a very good offer (price wise),” Ms Koeckler said.

“We have the Passat, so we are already very successful (with sedans) in Australia. So I don’t think this car will help us from a brand perspective if we launch it in Australia.

“Is that (light sedan) segment big enough for us to launch a new car (in it)? It’s not like we are selling 200,000 cars annually in Australia, so we have to make sure we achieve the right balance in our range for both our customers as well as our dealers.”

Unveiled in India (where it is also manufactured) in July this year, and released there in October, the A05 Polo sedan is about 4.4 metres long. Marketed as the Vento, it resurrects an old Volkswagen nameplate that was last used on the Mk3 Golf sedan made from 1992 to 1998.

The latest Vento has been launched with a choice of 1.6-litre four-cylinder engines in either 77kW/153Nm petrol or 77kW/250Nm common rail turbo-diesel TDI guises. Only the former can be had with a six-speed automatic gearbox, on top of the standard five-speed manual transmission serving both powerplants.

VGA’s decision will leave the light-car sedan segment to the Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta, Honda City, Mazda2, Holden Barina, Proton S16, and Kia Rio, while Hyundai is expected to re-enter it next year with the i25 latter-day Accent replacement. Nissan, too, is thought to be contemplating the release of the K13 Micra sedan, but probably not before 2012.

Meanwhile, Ms Koeckler has dismissed talk of the new Polo GTI cannibalising Golf GTI sales in Australia, since the two vehicles appeal to different demographic groups.

“I really don’t think so, because when it comes to the price point, if you are in the Golf right now you won’t go down to the Polo. But if you are in another car by another brand, or if you are driving a regular Polo and want to go for more performance, then you might consider the Polo GTI.

“If you need to travel with, say, your family, then the packaging of the Golf GTI makes it the more ideal choice anyway. (On the other hand) younger people, who want to have fun and who are performance orientated … would be attracted to the Polo.”

Mrs Koeckler also revealed that the Polo GTI’s keen pricing was a result of exchange rates favouring the Australian dollar, as well as good negotiation skills and open communication between VGA and Volkswagen AG in Germany.

“It always helps if you can deliver on your volume promises … and once we are selling the amount of cars that we said we would, we can then argue for the right price point … and if you do that with confidence, then it is easier to actually get to the price point you are after.”

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