- May 3, 2006
Volkswagen mulling external sales channel for genre-bending GX3
Volkswagen's shocking GX3, the California penned roadster-cum-motorcycle that rocked the Los Angeles Auto Show is likely to shake up the North American car market like few vehicles have in recent years -- provided it's a success. Many other world markets have a goodly number of oddball, small volume vehicles like the GX3 -- Britain and Japan come immediately to mind. But in the U.S., unorthodox offerings have largely been confined to the margins of the market, fringe bets by fringe players. VW's GX3 has the potential to turn that convention on its head.
But if it sees production (as it looks as if it will), the automaker may pick an equally unconventional manner in which to launch the trick trike -- a "junior brand" legally separated from the parent company. According to Automobile Magazine, there are those within the VW fold who "... have concerns about handling, roadholding, and controlability and who question the appeal of the vehicle to U.S. buyers." This has a few around Autoblog Towers thinking that VW is fearful of America's reputation as a sue-happy, litigious people. Given the GX3's minimalist ethos (which brooms such items as air bags, a windshield or electronic aids), this could be a legitimate worry, even if the GX3 is legally classified as a motorcycle. Rumored suspension and steering fiddling by Lotus may go a long way towards convincing sportscar and bike buffs, but the British legend's involvement is unlikely to sway the company's hardnosed legal teams.
If the GX3 is green-lighted, Volkswagen sees the potential for 10,000 units/year and could have examples in dealerships late next year. Of course, it remains to be seen whose flag is flying out front.
Our thoughts? Provided the GX3 is as good as it has the potential to be, our advice to Bernhard's boys is: "If you build it, they will come."
[Source: Automobile Magazine; Volkswagen]