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]