After three years as one of the fastest-growing car brands in the US, Volkswagen has hit a sales rut, and it can't get out. In response, Volkswagen Group of America downgraded VW's 2013 US vehicle sales target to 440,000, from the original target of about 486,000, reports Automotive News. The stair-step incentive program under which dealerships earn bonuses also was restructured early this month, yet VW USA remains committed to its goal of producing 800,000 cars annually by 2018.

Many VW dealerships rely on bonuses earned from an incentive program to make a profit, and the program was built around sales targets. But the reality of VW sales in 2013 had a number of dealers resorting to sales tactics that strained relationships with customers and other dealers in an attempt to meet the targets. This was reflected in a recent National Automobile Dealerships Association's survey that ranked VW's dealer policies last.

Volkswagen of America COO Mark McNabb has indicated that, through lowering US sales targets, simplifying bonus calculations and giving the incentive program clearer goals and more predictable monthly payments, VW is trying to ease the pressure on dealerships that rely on the bonuses, Automotive News reports.

Dealers are confident that sales will pick up when new models roll in, but VW dealership owner and chairman of the company's national dealership council, Jim Ellis, admits that right now VW is "getting kicked around a little bit here," reports Automotive News, by stronger-than-expected competition in the compact and midsize sedan segments.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      So cheapening the heck out of their cars and sticking with really old sub par engines didn't work in the long run?! What?! No way...
      R.t Voll
      • 1 Year Ago
      VW is decontenting the **** out of their cars hoping to get more sales. Sound familiar? Thats what US automakers did for years and look what happened to them. I am hoping VW realizes this formula doesn't work and starts producing quality cars again.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @R.t Voll
        Agreed - in an age where other makes are adding, VW is subtracting. Seems like they have realized this with MY 2014 Jetta. Passat is an example of pushing largest amount of bland metal with the least amount of features.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Bland bites back!..or rather, it gums away at you in a barely noticeable manner, leaving you with light soreness, an annoying rash, and mild narcolepsy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Going to 800,000 cars in 5 years is pretty ambitious. Have they released a solid plan to get there? They would need a number of new product offerings, such as cars below the Jetta/Golf in size and price. Not to mention getting their quality and reliability ratings a lot higher.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I like their Jetta wagon. Almost bought one. But it is getting seriously long in the tooth by now. It is well past its expiration date.
        • 1 Year Ago
        VW has a great, modernized lineup- in Europe. Here in the US, we have a choice between ancient (Golf VI, Sportwagen, Tiguan, CC) or decontented (Jetta, Passat). The Touareg is the only model that is actually up-to-date and still retains its 'German-ness', but the average consumer doesn't have $40k-60k to drop on a luxury crossover. VW should have ditched the 2.5L years ago, released the Golf VII/Sportwagen in the US BEFORE Europe (after all, our economy is better than EU's), made the Tiguan actually competitive with the CRV/CX5/RAV4 on cost/size/features, and released a 3-row crossover years ago. The Jetta never should have been decontented (torsion beam? ha), and the Passat needs minor updates to compete with the Mazda6/Fusion/Accord.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nor producing 800,000...SELLING 800,000.
      • 1 Year Ago
      VW got greedy, they went for sales and $$$. Which in turn resulted in two cars the Jetta, and Passat as very bland and stale. They lost their character to me, where as the Golf still has style to it. I see other people on here agree too. You can't expect everyone to rush out when you release a dud in styling, and expect the powertrain to make up for the lack of panache.
      • 1 Year Ago
      The Golf has been saddled with that 5 cylinder gas engine for how many years offering very mediocre gas mileage. Time to wakeup VW!
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      So in the long term cheapening and decontenting has not worked after all.
      • 1 Year Ago
      They new models have stopped coming, what did they expect. That type of expansion requires new models every year, one after another. The engine comments is right on the money. Passat is quite handsome IMO, more more bland than anything else in their basic trims. Only the Mazda 6, fully loaded Fusion and certain Accords stand out IMO. M
      Snark McGee
      • 1 Year Ago
      Test drove a Jetta hybrid. IMO one of the best driving hybrids I have ever tried - (dual clutch tranny, 1.4L TFSI) - and I've tried them all. But the interior was offensive. No cloth option for the seats, just pleather that felt sticky and nasty. A real shame. That car could be a winner.
      • 1 Year Ago
      It looks like the people who bought them told their friends what service and dependability were really like! My last VW was my last because it was at the dealer as much as my home and that was a 2009 model. The dealer refused to take it in on a trade, that will tell you something about VW. When I sold it after one year I lost 30 percent.
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