Volkswagen knows that its US operations need some help, so it installed Michael Horn as CEO of its American operations a few months ago. In a new interview with Bloomberg, Horn goes into detail about his two-pronged focus for the company – making dealers happier and improving product.
Chief among that product news is confirmation that the Phaeton is going to return to our market in 2018 or 2019, a move VW has long been rumored to be considering. The full-size luxury sedan hasn't been sold in the US since the end of the 2006 model year, departing the market as a victim of slow sales. (The Phaeton has since been slightly updated overseas, where it continues to be offered.)
The complex Phaeton garnered a good amount of critical acclaim in its time on our market, yet it earned mostly perplexed looks from consumers who had trouble understanding the idea of a "People's Car" priced against competitors like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (or the VW Group's own Audi A8, for that matter). It isn't immediately clear how VW intends to exempt the next-generation Phaeton from the same fate when it returns, nor is it clear whether the new model will share its underpinnings with the Bentley Continental Flying Spur, as the first iteration did.
According to the Bloomberg interview, Horn's other main goal is improving VW's dealer relations. He says that right now, dealers are unhappy with the company, and there is a "great distance" between them. The two sides are negotiating now to improve bonuses, marketing and other elements to get the network back on board.
"We need to connect closer from the American market to the German market," said Horn in the interview, and it looks like the company is making the first steps toward that goal. Scroll down to watch the full discussion.