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Click image for hi-res gallery of the facelifted VW Phaeton

It appears that the VW Phaeton will make a return to the Unites States market, according to Volkswagen CEO Dr. Martin Winterkorn. In an interview with Financial Times Deutchland, he essentially stated that to be successful with a product, it has to be something sold worldwide. (We're paraphrasing from a Google Translation of the FTD article, so be advised that the wording may be off a bit.)

The other thing we took from the translated article is that the car earmarked for a return to the States is the "successor" to the Phaeton. That has us thinking that the facelifted car introduced at Geneva last week is not the one Winterkorn's talking about. The Phaeton story is well known by now; poorly marketed and just as poorly received by car shoppers, the VW super sedan is a beautiful, handbuilt machine that tanked thanks in large part to an idiotic campaign at the car's launch (remember the TV commercials where VW showed still photos of the car with the logos covered while a voiceover clown said things like, "No question...that's a BMW"?) and a price tag that was incongruous with what people were willing to pay for a Volkswagen. The 8-cylinder Phaeton stickered at over $64K, and a gargantuan $94K was the price set for the range-topping W12. For that kind of money, people could go shop at Audi (or BMW, or Mercedes), and that's likely what many of them did. The Phaeton was pulled from our market in 2005.

Assuming this actually happens, it'll be interesting to see what Volkswagen does to help make round two a success for the Phaeton. If any readers have a proper command of German and can better elucidate what the FTD article says, please chime in with your own comments. The Financial Times piece can be found here. If you don't read German, this will come in handy.

Thanks to all who sent tips.

[Source: FT Deutchland]


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  • 23 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      I can see why it failed in the market, but that doesn't make it a bad car, in fact, it is a rather gorgeous and amazing car.

      They could have differentiated it a liiittle bit more from the previous gen passat though (which in itself is a good looking design, unlike the current gen, which looks like the jetta).

      I'm shocked how many car enthusiasts (presumably people posting here) are badge snobs. If Buick brought out a car tomorrow that was superior to a bmw along every possible metric except badge-value, I'd buy it over the bmw. And its not like VW is that terrible a brand.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Calguy hit the nail on the head. VW might have a chance if it could think far enough out of the box to redefine a luxury offering. A socially responsible angle would fit particularly well with VW's roots.

      Alas, the Phaeton thus far has been an unimaginative, ego-driven exercise in futility on the part of VW executives.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I don't understand, you have the A8 to sell VW why are you even making this stupid car? VW has moved as far up market as it can w/o moving in on Audi's territory. I'm all for VW's getting more sport configurations and luxury upgrades but this sedan is and always will be a poor choice for VW. I feel like MINI created a full size luxury BMW 745 competitor. The bottom line is down-market brands (VW) of luxury equivilents (Audi) can move sideways into better performance but never up into luxury without people being unwilling to pay for it, just as up-market brands can never move down into economy cars w/o diluting their brand. You have VW, you have Audi...keep it that way.
      • 8 Years Ago
      What VW should be doing, making the Mini-van that was the hit of all the auto shows. It fit well in their market, it was a graduate car for families that were into VW's, and it would have sold.

      Instead, they make the Toureg. Not a "Hit" car.
      Instead, they make the Phaeton. Not a hit.
      Instead, they make the Eos. Eh?

      There is a strong market for VW. There is a lot of VW love in the US.

      VW is crapping on that love daily.

      Make the dang mini-van. Sell 20-40K units a year. Make familys with needs of larger vehicles stop going to Honda and Toyo.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "Offering such an upscale car at a VW dealership is another issue--it's like buying a ROLEX from K-Mart."

      Have you been to a VW dealership recently? I don't know about where you are, but where i am the vw dealerships are top notch, and all of their new models right down to the golf have a luxury and high quality feel. In my world the k-mart of the auto world is the local gm or ford dealership.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "Have you been to a VW dealership recently?"

      Here's a fun test, go to your dealer, ask them how often the DSG transmission needs to be serviced. Of the 30 dealers I contacted NONE could provide the proper information but instead told me it was a life time transmission, and told me the part of the manual which refereed to a 40,000 mile interval was just 'a generalization'. So yes, that's the problem, many of us have been to VW dealerships recently, and while I'm not sure where you live, I do know I have 30 within a 100 mile radius of my home, and I only purchase cars from one and service my cars at another, that's 2/30, due to atrocious service and sales experience. He's just being realistic.

      Oh and I've got a call on my answering machine from VW's head of north american customer service, so apparently they're as concerned as I am about this.
      • 8 Years Ago
      As a VW owner the Phaeton is magnificent car. VW customer service and dealer network is not.
      For the Phaeton to succeed in the US against Lexus, Infinity, BMW, Audi, and MB they have to improve customer service and dealer network to their level.

      • 8 Years Ago
      I agree this car won't sell at it's likely price point (48K and up?) but I think it's much better looking than the current passat.

      My recommendation? Don't sell this car but make the current passats external styling look more like it. Then offer the vastly upgraded-over-passat interior as a $4K luxury package. The new passat's have horribly cheap interiors for their price point. I might consider replacing my 2003 Passat if it looked this nice. I'd even pay $40K-ish for that look/trim.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "I'm shocked how many car enthusiasts (presumably people posting here) are badge snobs."

      Currently owning four (4) VeeDubs and commenting that VW has no business selling this car in north america, does not paint me a brand snob. It makes me a realist. The Pheaton simply DOES NOT SELL here, it's interior is NOT on par with other cars in it's price range, especially the A8, there is no compelling reason for VW to sell this product here. Which I can happily espouse as a proud VW owner, because it's patently clear on every level.

      "If Buick brought out a car tomorrow that was superior to a bmw along every possible metric except badge-value, I'd buy it over the bmw"

      If VAG EVER released a product that was superior to BMW along EVERY metric then they would have succeeded some where no one has before. The fact is, Audi isn't there, and VW most certainly isn't there. Sure I'd love for the A4 to be a better drive or the S4 to be a better value/drive, but neither are (vs the entry 3 and 335i comparatively). That's REALITY.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ford 500's lost cousin? Man that thing just reeks of the defunct 500.....
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'll admit the VW dealers nearby and their "network" is pretty shoddy. VWoA just doesn't do a good job of pricing and customer service, which both would play big parts into gaining my business. VW has a big problem with their vans too - they always want about $10k more than what the car is worth.

      VW needs to go back to its roots, provide a super quality car, cut out the glit and glamour, and sell it at a reasonable, affordable price. The W12 engine is an awesome concept, but just not in a overpriced, Passat that ways one ton more than an S-Class.

      Until VWoA gets its act together, I'll keep driving 30 year old VWs :)
      • 8 Years Ago
      Seems this Winterkorn has a bigger ego and smaller brain than Piech.
      First spouting off that VW will surpass Toyota in quality (HA!) and sales in the future and now bringing back the Phailedton to the US!
      Those Germans are unbelieveable.
      The arrogant, hard-headed super race is still alive.
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