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?