Volkswagens’ plans to deliver a golf-size car to the US market stalled as the German automaker considers allowing rival DaimlerChrysler [DCX] to import the car and sell it under the Dodge label. VW dealers are naturally unhappy with the move, but the stakes are much higher than meets the eye. Will the Pole continue to appear? If not, why not?
The world of automotive marketing has changed dramatically in the last generation. Gone are the brands that are purely beyond national borders and localized brands. Instead, vehicles are sold that carry a label but are actually made by another manufacturer. Globalism is here and automakers have openly embraced these changes.
The Volkswagen Polo is a likely entry into the US market as a model that would fit perfectly below the VW Golf in its US range. Many manufacturers are changing their car lines to allow smaller cars to become the new entry-level vehicles in their fleets. Here are some examples of cars that have been introduced recently or will soon find their way into automotive lines:
Chevrolet – Korean automaker Daewoo, a subsidiary of GM, supplies the Aveo for Chevrolet. This lower step car sits directly under the Cobalt.
Honda: After 35 years, the Civic will no longer be the entry-level model for Honda. An even smaller car, the Jazz, will be imported in about a year.
Mercedes: Yes, even a luxury automaker like Mercedes is considering introducing a line or two of cars smaller than its current ‘baby’ Mercedes line, the C-Class cars.
BMW: The same goes for the other German luxury brand.
Dodge: With the Caliber Neon replacement coming soon, Dodge is still looking to offer a smaller car than the Caliber for its fleet. With the DCX relationship with the sunken Mitsubishi, the Japanese automaker can no longer be relied upon to provide a steady stream of entry-level cars for the Chrysler Group.
Yes, an unlikely supplier to DCX is Volkswagen, a strong competitor to DCX’s Mercedes division in Europe. However, VW has its needs, a minivan, and the Chrysler Group will allow VW to market a renowned version of its minivan in the United States. In exchange for the minivan, Dodge markets the Polo, a tiny 1.2-liter four-passenger car that should have city gas mileage of around 35 mpg and highway performance of just over 50 mpg.
The current Polo is marketed in Europe as a three- or five-door hatchback, which is not a popular body style in the United States. Instead, VW could send a specially reconfigured four-door sedan to secure interest in this model in the US market.
Although VW appears to be committed to this special deal with DCX, the Polo could still be sold here as Volkswagen. Keeping the sedan-only styling for VW branded cars, the Polo may still be available through VW dealers. Throw in the optional 1.9L turbodiesel and fuel consumption will go up more than sixty miles per gallon. It’s no wonder VW dealers are eager to see the imported car!