THE days of cheap Volkswagens are over, in Australia at least.
While in recent years Volkswagen had competed heavily on price with its Polo, Volkswagen Golf and Tiguan models, the brand has shifted away from its pitch at growing market share off the back of discount deals, and will instead focus on the core engineering of its vehicles.
Approaching his one-year anniversary as the head of the German brand in Australia, Volkswagen’s local managing director, Michael Bartsch, said the brand had entered a new phase where it would focus on substance and engineering excellence more than price.
“We will never be the cheapest car on the market, that simply won’t happen,” said Bartsch in outlining the brand’s local positioning.
“The products will remain to be what Volkswagen have always been in terms of leading edge for the segment, technology, design, substance. The most important thing is we remain something that people aspire to.”
Bartsch acknowledged the brand had work to do, particularly with its aftersales service, hit hard by the much publicised diesel emissions scandal, and problems with DSG automatic transmissions that were failing and costing thousands to repair.
He said he was focusing on increasing the training and skills of technicians in workshops and on improving VW’s service experience.
But he said the overall sales thrust would rely on value for money within the segment, focusing on a “premium for the people” internal mantra.
“But we will always remain an extremely made value proposition for … premium engineering, premium quality,” Bartsch said.
“We have to have a brand position that people can rely on. There has to be predictability and substance in residual values.
“In the segment we are in, and the price points we have, people have to have a very, very clear understanding of what the brands stand for. You don’t get that by just always looking at the price point.”