It’s no secret that Volkswagen is struggling in the U.S. market, and the bland Passat that it sells there doesn’t help it increase sales. Following strong 2012 sales, the US-made Passat fell off in the second half of 2013 and is down again in the first two months of this year.
This is why the German automaker wants to freshen it up by implementing some significant cosmetic changes for the 2016 model year. Car&Driver reports that when the Passat will be facelifted, the changes will be more dramatic than the brand’s usual makeovers.
At a round-table discussion at the Geneva Motor Show, VW Group powertrain development chief Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neusser, and Michael Horn, the new CEO at VW of America, admitted that the Passat and other VW models could benefit from shorter product cycles for U.S. consumer, which in their view are “more oriented to fresh outside designs.”
“We are quite aware that we have to do something to keep the car fresh in the market,” Horn said of the Passat, adding that the facelift will add more than just cosmetic changes and will include “a lot of new features, driver’s assistance systems and so forth.”
The need for a turnaround of U.S. operations has been acknowledged by VW CEO Martin Winterkorn in an earlier interview. “The biggest problem we Germans have is that we think we know what the Americans want from us,” Winterkorn said. This can only mean VW is about to listen more carefully to what U.S. consumers want from their cars.
By Dan Mihalascu