Usually automakers announce changes to their lineup individually on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis, but sometimes it all comes at once – especially when the changes are ones we either expected or might not otherwise notice. That's the path Volkswagen has gone with changes to its US lineup for 2015.
Volkswagen Routan News
Volkswagen halted production of the Routan minivan in late 2012 due to low sales volume, but there were reports swirling around that it would live on and continue production alongside the closely related Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan. But now VW says that it will indeed stop Routan production for good, The Detroit Bureau reports.
Chrysler has slowed production of its Town and Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans this week, Automotive News reports. The Windsor, Ontario plant will cut its three shifts from eight hours each to four hours each in an effort "to align production with market demand," a Chrysler spokesperson told AN. Chrysler also builds the closely related Routan minivan for Volkswagen at its Ontario facility, but has not built a single example thus far in 2013.
Last week, we reported that production of the Chrysler-based Volkswagen Routan minivan had been halted since July, and its future seemed grim. It appears now that the Volkswagen minivan will live on, with production resuming in 2013. According to an Automotive News report, the Routan will be unchanged for the 2013 model year (surprise!) and continue to be produced at the Windsor, Ontario facility, where Chrysler assembles the Town and Country.
The Volkswagen Routan has quietly been out of production since July, but with a new three-row crossover on the way and a recent back-and-forth spat between Volkswagen executives and Sergio Marchionne of Fiat, it's probable that the 2012 model year could be the last for this minivan. The current agreement for Chrysler to build the Routan in Windsor, Ontario lasts through 2014, but Automotive News is reporting that VW might be looking to renegotiate the deal early next year.
At a small media roundtable session with journalists at the Los Angeles Auto Show today, Klaus Bischoff, Volkswagen's head of global design, confirmed that VW's much-rumored three-row utility vehicle will be "most hopefully" revealed at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.
Cars.com rounded up the year's crop of new minivans for a comparison, the rare thrill being that minivans from every major maker are completely fresh for 2011. The entrants were the Nissan Quest (pictured), Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Town & Country, Volkswagen Routan and Dodge Grand Caravan.
Volkswagen Routan – Click above for high-res image gallery
If you close your eyes and think about the Volkswagen product lineup, products like the Golf, Jetta, and Passat are sure to come to mind. Most won't picture the Routan minivan, because most Americans don't even know the rebadged Dodge Grand Caravan exists. Sales of the Routan are so bad that the minivan hasn't been made since January, and production isn't picking up again until August.
2009 Volkswagen Routan - click above for a high res image gallery
In Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, one of the characters decries the need for a set of detailed instructions on a packet of toothpicks. Volkswagen might feel the same way now that 18,500 of its 2009 Routan minivans are being recalled because their owner's manuals don't include a required warning not to put items on or near the airbag. In the words of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
Volkswagen Routan - Click above for high-res gallery
Evidently, early consumer feedback suggests that Fahrvergnügen is not spelled "R-o-u-t-a-n." Volkswagen has reportedly asked Chrysler Canada to temporarily halt production for the month of February on its new ported-over minivan.