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2011 VW Phaeton: Deja Vu All Over Again

Posted in Bizarre, Cars, Expensive Cars, Luxury Cars, New Cars, Volkswagen by Kurt Ernst | August 21st, 2010 | 7 Responses |

2011 VW Phaeton

Insanity, it’s said, is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome. From 2004 until 2006, Volkswagen sold the Phaeton sedan in the United States, to approximately 2,300 buyers. As many of those buyers will tell you, the Phaeton was a fine automobile, saddled with an inadequately trained and equipped dealer service network. Horror stories abound about long waits for spare parts, or about service departments that didn’t know how to troubleshoot even minor problems with the über-luxury sedan. Worse, buyers of a car costing three times the price of a loaded Jetta were treated exactly the same as buyers of a stripper Golf by indifferent dealers, especially when those owners had repeated problems with their cars. Throw in depreciation that was among the worst in the industry, and you have a recipe for automotive model disaster.

Despite this, Carscoop tells us that Volkswagen is considering a return to the U.S. with the Phaeton in 2011. As was the case previously, the Phaeton will target the best cars in the world and will come at a substantial price premium to other VW products. How VW expects to sell the car in a flaccid economy with an essentially unchanged dealer network is anyone’s guess, but VW execs see the Phaeton as instrumental in helping them achieve worldwide sales goals.

I’m a big fan of VW and have owned more than my share throughout the years. I’d love to see them succeed and grow their presence in the U.S. market, but I’m seeing the re-introduction of the Phaeton as the very definition of insanity. Does anyone outside of VW’s corporate headquarters disagree with me?

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7 Responses

  1. Shahroz says:

    i just saw the older model two days ago, at first i dismissed it as an old audi A8…. but when i noticed the vw sign… i was amazed. why would anyone buy this ?! i know its all fancy and luxurious, but its too…boring for that kind of money !
    when i told my girlfriend (she was with me) about the car, and all it’s fancy stuff and price tag…. she said that car? are u serious? looks like an average car to me

  2. Kurt says:

    Shahroz, that’s another reason they weren’t successful in the US. Ironically, Hyundai is about to try the same thing with their $60k Equus flagship. Like VW, they won’t create a premium brand; unlike VW, Hyundai will market the hell out of it.

  3. Bob says:

    I own a 2006 VW Phaeton and it’s like no other car in the world.
    Inside, the engineering is like a Bentley (which VW owns).
    The fit, finish and workmanship of the wood alone in the 2006 models has to be seen to be believed. The quality of the leather is clearly from Bentley and unlike any other VW.
    Also incredible as is the power, speed and smoothness of the engine. It’s worlds apart from the Audi A8 and nothing remotely like any VW.
    It’s a huge, fast, incredibly safe sedan and I love having the VW nameplate on it, which people can’t believe when I gas it up.
    My VW dealer give super service and I’ve had no noteworthey problems.

  4. Karl says:

    I bought a depreciated 2004 V8 in mid-2008 for a song and it is a beautiful car. As the salesman (who was very well versed in the Phaeton) said, “The right people will notice this car”. Bimmer and Merc owners, eat your hearts out – that is real eucalyptus wood, not some ersatz variety!
    As Jeremy Clarkson quoted Ferdinand Piech, “the best car ever”.

  5. Kurt says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see the new Phaeton succeed. VW needs to change the sales and service experience for Phaeton buyers if the new model has any hope of success.

    It may be the best car ever, but too many people in this country will obsess that there isn’t a BMW roundel, a Mercedes tri-star or the Audi rings on the grille.

  6. Rob says:

    There are people that do not buy a car simply because of its name and status, or what their friends or coworkers think. Some people who could buy any car they want, do not want to drive a “statement car”. VW makes Audi, Buggatti, Porsche, and others so why not build a big VW. I’ld consider buying one. I never quite understand why people defend their preconceptions about cars! It not a religion, it just a car!

  7. Kurt Ernst says:

    Rob, you’re correct that the REALLY rich people don’t buy cars for status. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, drove an old pickup truck even though he was worth billions.