Today in the Tell Us How You Really Feel file we have Bernd Osterloh, head of Volkswagen AG's Group Works Councils and member of the company's supervisory board, labeling the company's US operations "a disaster." Why? Because Osterloh believes VW of America doesn't have the models it needs to be competitive here, hasn't been decisive enough about its plans and German higher-ups still don't understand the US market.

In truth, the top labor rep at the German conglomerate is echoing sentiments we've heard from VWoA executives for years, and there's been the same commentary from dealers: Germany doesn't pay enough attention to what the US market really wants. Even ex-VWoA CEO Stefan Jacoby, who preceded the recently departed Jonathan Browning, said early in his tenure that one of his tasks was to get his German bosses to start delivering what the US market demanded. New CEO Michael Horn is saying much the same thing seven years later, telling Sky News that it has to increase "the speed at which we bring new models to the market and innovation to the market."

Osterloh wants to get "more models" here, including a pickup truck, but we'd wonder if the economics have changed from when Jacoby said they'd need to sell 100,000 per year to make money. Osterloh also wants a decision on where the CrossBlue will be built. Although it looked as if the Chatanooga, TN plant would get the call, the Puebla, Mexico plant is still in the running because of lower operating costs. No matter what happens right now, Osterloh thinks the situation won't get better for another two years when revamped models arrive, but at least the company can start taking the steps for a better US future.


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  • 139 Comments
      vripper
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's simple...you don't tell the Germans what you want, THEY tell you what you want.
      vizcarmb
      • 1 Year Ago
      At least someone understands the crap that is put out in the US.
      carnut0913
      • 1 Year Ago
      Disaster is kind.VW has always had an issue with 1) high service costs. For a 'people's car', an oil change is mighty expensive. and 2) warranty issues- which includes Audi. When the salespeople tell you that Audi/VW are cars to lease, not buy- believe them. I loved my GLI dearly but the whole time I leased it, everytime I brought it in for service, there was some niggle that needed fixing. Recently, their woes have extended to poor design and interior materials. Who can tell the difference between a Dodge Avenger, a Jetta, and a Passat. I exaggerate but there is nothing special about a boxy design. And their infamous push to drive out costs on the Jetta have been well documented. The last good Jetta was the Gen IV. The last good design was the first gen CC- which was phenomenal. VW has lost their focus and their way.
        Hello, Brian
        • 1 Year Ago
        @carnut0913
        Agree with almost everything but your assessment of the last good Jetta. The MK IV Jetta was the best looking Jetta, but it was the absolute worst regarding reliability. Thankfully, my experience with VAG has been a lot better than yours. My Audis were all good cars. Yes, they are expensive to maintain and repair, but the repairs were infrequent. My VWs have ranged from pretty much bulletproof to an R32 that needed an entirely new A/C system from the day it left the dealer lot and various other niggling parts needing replacement over time. Overall, I still loved that car one hell of a lot better than the Toyota I had at the time, (huge mistake, that) but when people hear about experiences like mine, they shy away.
          Buzzy
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Hello, Brian
          I pretty much have the same experience, my Mk 4 Jetta diesel has about 180k on it and has had zero repairs other than the normal maintainence, it has been a great car, and at 11+ years old I can't find any rust, anywhere. I wasn't so lucky with a GTI, and I have seen a lot complaints about gas powered Jettas as well. Glad now that I spent the extra money for the diesel.
          carnut0913
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Hello, Brian
          Good to hear. I will agree with your clarification on the Gen IV. I only had one major issue but loved the look and the ride. GLI was one of the best handling cars I have had. I would lease again if they get their ducks in a row but own? Need a few years of solid reliability before I own past warranty,
        Phil
        • 1 Year Ago
        @carnut0913
        You are dead on balls accurate with the CC being the last good fresh design. I looked at a 2009 used CC the other day and aside from the high miles on the odometer, it was so much nicer to look at than the newer model. The bucket seat in the back is what made it unique but in typical VW fashion and trying to please the whole world, they yank it out and put in a bench seat. I might as well save $12k and buy the new VW Passat-Camry instead.
      b.rn
      • 1 Year Ago
      In addition to what many people are saying, there are two other things VW needs to work on. Maintenance costs. Every buy hoses for a VW? Replacement VW parts are absurd. BMW can get away with it. VW can't. Dealership experience. No manufacturer has consistently good dealers, but VW has consistently bad dealers. Buyers, even repeat buyers, shouldn't feel demeaned every time they go to the dealer. I'm amazed anyone buys VW at all.
        Rampant
        • 1 Year Ago
        @b.rn
        As a current gti owner, i will admit oem part pricing is too high. Thankfully, the oft talked about 'reliability issues' that everyone shouts about have yet to happen for either my A4 or gti, and both are 7+ years old. Either I am extremely lucky *which I doubt* or other owners are not keeping up with the preventative maintenance *which seems much more likely*. One of the major reasons Honda and Toyota vehicles last so long is that people will pay to maintain and repair them. It doesn't matter who's names on the car if you don't maintain it, it will not last.
          Bruce Lee
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rampant
          BS on this maintenance nonsense, my friend bought a new Jetta and her catalytic converter went bad after 9 months of ownership. How is that a maintenance issue?! Yes, it was covered under warranty but when it went it flashes messages about not to drive anywhere except to the nearest dealer, etc. which is not exactly confidence inspiring. Also, having sat in her Jetta, is VW joking with the HARD PLASTIC sides to the rear seat? I had half my body touching freezing cold hard plastic when sitting 3-up in the back row, I've never seen another manufacturer resort to hard plastic in the damned seat backs before. The Jetta is absolutely in the bottom of its class in terms of desirability, why would anybody buy it over the Civic which has a much nicer interior and reliability? Or the Cruze which also has much nicer interior refinement? Even the new Corolla has a nicer interior and reliability isn't even comparable, ditto for the Elantra.
          Go2Fast
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rampant
          I'm with you. I have a 2003 GLI VR6) and I've had, what I consider, to be minor repairs over the last 6 or 7 years. A sensor here or there and a slave cylinder. Thats prett much it.
      ccweems
      • 1 Year Ago
      If VW has desires on selling a million cars a year perhaps they ought to look at somebody who came from nowhere and are doing that now: Hyundai/Kia. There is much to learn. There are only a few models that breach the 100,000 mark. They also seem willing to sell models that have motivated buyers yet come nowhere near 50,000 cars a year. Also instead of selling decontented models Hyundai/Kia have gone in the opposite direction. On average their US models are offered at higher specifications top to bottom within their range than anywhere in the world a part from Korea. Oh, and they don't have a truck to offer. As it is history is repeating itself: VW tries to sell a stripped down model "fashioned to US buyers" while other companies (Ford, Hyundai, Kia and a host of others) sell substantially the same cars with great success in the US as they do in other countries. I expect that VW can't stomach selling cars in the US for less money than they do in Europe. Selling low doesn't mean not making a profit it's just a lower profit. VW has some financial advantages in Europe (low cost of funds for one) that it doesn't enjoy in the US. You can't expect to compete in the most competitive automotive market in the world without tasting a little blood. For 30 years VW has tried "to succeed without really trying". It shows.
      plarson79
      • 1 Year Ago
      Fuel economy has a big impact on US sales as well. While their TDi models are successful, they are far more expensive then gasoline alternatives that are now getting similar fuel economy. Gas versions of VW vehicles are extremely sub-par. The current Golf has been a poor seller (unless it's a GTI or TDi). That's pretty embarrassing for a car that is considered to have a prideful heritage and cult following. The new 1.8T will help with economy, but when the new number in the compact segment is 40mpg, the 1.8T is not close. VW needs better designs and better fuel efficiency out of their gas engines and competitive cross-overs to get back on track.
        Neez
        • 1 Year Ago
        @plarson79
        The new 1.4L Turbo hybrid jetta is probably the best hybrid on the market. Gets 48mpg and is actually fun to drive, go figure?? However the problem is, no advertisement???? I haven't seen a single ad or commercial for it on tv, i don't think people really know about it. They should put the same engine in the golf, and advertise the crap out of them to compete with the prius. The prius is great and all, but it drives like poo.
      duffypad
      • 1 Year Ago
      They need to start bringing new models when released in europe not 2yrs later also interior content example look at the jetta tdi and the cruze tdi[more content inside even better mileage yet cheaper though not as good looking].
      end3651
      • 1 Year Ago
      I finally gave up after my third Volkswagen. Why it took me three tries is another question. I have found VW, with rare exceptions, to be at best indifferent on all levels--sales, service, corporate, quality.
      U crazy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Used to be a VW guy, two Sciroccos '82 and '85 then Jetta VR6. Great cars,then they became unreliable boring and overpriced. Nothing but WRX now.
      Temple
      • 1 Year Ago
      The problem with VW is that they went from making expensive Euro-styled cars for the US market that weren't reliable, to cheaper American-styled cars that isn't reliable. The new Jetta and its other decontented lineup may be more affordable but it neither has the quality like it used to, nor is it reliable as the Japanese brands. Worse, now its gotten even blander as Japanese brands like Mazda have started building more exciting cars.
      Mercer
      • 1 Year Ago
      Audi US is a disaster too. For such an important market, is it necessary to waste two years to get the new models ashore?
      mdcwave
      • 1 Year Ago
      While part of the problem is taking too long to introduce new models here, the current line up of US-focused sedans is just plain boring. On top of that, VW does not offer the right Crossover, SUV and trucks for the US market, something all Asian brands (and other European brands) already do. To make a really competitive vehicle for the US would probably take the aged and conservative European management too far out of their comfort zone, therefore the vehicles will never get made.
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