Why Skoda should become Volkswagen (for the US market) w/ POLL

Volkswagen’s struggles to sell cars in the US market at anything close to the rate its mainstream competitors are managing are well documented. Try as it may, the German manufacturer has been unable to punch beyond the niche of cars for people who want to be different and are willing to pay a little extra for the privilege. Its list of faux-pas is long: from bungling the local production of the Golf/Jetta in the 1980s that lead to myriad quality issues, through trying to sell cars that were too small and too expensive for the US market, all the way to missing out on the crossover wave. While the “right-sized” US/Chinese Passat and Jetta helped matters a little bit in the early 2010s, these cars have since slid back behind their competitors in terms of sales and appeal.

So, this might be the right time to try something drastic – rather than develop more US-specific cars or struggle with their Euro-centric line-up, VW should take Skoda’s mainstream offerings, rebrand them as VWs in the US and watch as they fly off the shelves.

front-left-480-en_US75d1b470a0f9ed5e6f6616b7a6a056920fcffb19-e1425641400353

Sure, this is by no means a new idea, but arguably now it’s more true than ever, for five reasons:

1. Skoda’s brand values appeal more to US consumers than VW’s

This is arguably the point VAG fails to grasp – the US market is different than the European one, and Skoda’s ethos of making cars that are great value-for-money (not cheap, mind) seems to fit it better than what VW’s positioning between mainstream and premium. Yes, VW tried to target the US consumer squarely with the US Passat, but the end product come out looking like they tried to make the car cheaper and consumer duly steered clear. By comparison, Skoda’s cars just feel like they’re designed to be the best they can within the mainstream, rather than being cheapened versions of better-engineered sister models.

2. Skoda makes some amazing cars…

The new Fabia, Octavia and especially Superb show that, when given the chance, Skoda’s engineers can put together packages that are close to class-leading. No longer the butt of jokes (“why do Skoda’s have heated rear windows? so that your hands don’t freeze when you push-start it in the winter!”), these cars have taken the best of VAG’s technology (MQB platform, engines, gearboxes) and put it together in a way that makes the cars more spacious, better value and sufficiently different from other VAG products not to feel like clones.

3. …that would fit pretty great into the US market

The Fabia would be a perfect fit into the growing “subcompact” market in the US, competing head-on with no-nonsense practical offerings like the Honda Fit/Jazz or Hyundai Accent. The Superb too would be a great entrant into the ever-growing “midsize” sedan market, offering better space, technology and sharper looks than the US Passat. Only the Octavia might be a smidgen too large to compete directly with the Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic, but price it right and it too should sell. Finally, the Octavia Wagon Scout 4×4 could strike squarely at the Subaru Outback.

4. Skoda has even more in the pipeline

In addition to the cars its already making, Skoda has not one but two crossovers in the pipeline – the new Yeti and a larger one, itself a version of the upcoming US VW crossover. These should appeal to the growing crossover market in the US, which just like Skoda is all about family-friendliness and inoffensive dynamics.

5. VW could blend Skoda and VW models at will

The upside of Skoda’s styling being so close to its German big brother is that it would not take much effort to make Skodas look like VWs for the US market. In addition, VW could still sell its halo models in the US if it wanted to – the Golf TDI/GTI/R, Beetle, or Touareg.

So, what do you think? Would it make sense to sell Skodas in the US? Let us know in the poll below and in the comments section.

What should VW sell in the US?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

About Krzysztof Wozniak

Kriss grew up in Poland reading German car magazines, before moving to England and graduating to the British magazines, which he still considers the best in the world and continues reading them after he'd moved to the US. In college he promised himself he's buy himself a used Porsche before he turned 30 (not to be accused of having a mid-life crisis), but instead family needs dictated a Subaru Outback. Still waiting for that perfect moment to buy a used 2008-ish Cayman...
You can find all his articles Here.

Comments

  1. Justin says:

    IMHO, same craps…

  2. Howard Butler says:

    Yes, I agree with most of your points. In fact VW in Europe need to be concerned by the inextricable rise of the Hyundai/Kia group. Are they mainstrem or premium? They have lost direction and their reputation for perceived quality.
    Howard

Let me know what you think of this article. Thanks!

*