Beetle Beetles On
Most of the time when the name “Volkswagen” gets reported, it has something to do with something not so good, as in the diesel imbroglio that continues on and on like the Jetta TDI in one of those TV commercials of not long ago.
But here’s something of interest: last week Volkswagen of America’s sales numbers show that for June 2017 vs. June 2016 its sales are up 15 percent and they’re up 8.2 percent for the first six months of the year.
Those are strong numbers. By way of comparison, Chevy’s sales were down 6.4 percent June ‘17/June ’16 and off 3.8 percent for the first six month.
But then again, Chevy delivered 169,842 vehicles in June and 968,882 during the first six months, and the comparable numbers are 27,377 and 161,238 for Volkswagen. (Yes, Chevy sold more vehicles in June alone than VW has during the first six months.)
That said, it is still good news for Volkswagen. While there are plenty of manufacturers that are in positive territory both in June and during the first six months—Buick, Lincoln, Alfa, Infiniti, Nissan, and Subaru among them—there is one particular thing that stands out in the Volkswagen numbers.
They’re up 43.6 percent for June and up 30.2 percent for the year.
Think about this. Overall car sales—and I mean throughout the entire industry—are on a downward trajectory. The current Beetle had its debut as a model year 2012 vehicle (and Oprah gave keys to ecstatic audience members back in 2011 for the cars, and nowadays she’s shilling for a diet plan, not at the top of the TV game as she had been).
It is a small car. It has two doors. It comes as a convertible. All things that seem to be less and less appealing in the market. (The only thing that would make this even more off-putting to the U.S. market were it to come with a manual transmission. It doesn’t.)
Yet its sales are up rather significantly.
(OK. There were 1,587 Beetle sales in June and 8,821 so far this year. Chevy moved 6,550 Sonics in June and 17,958 so far this year—and those numbers are down 13.6 percent and 36.5 percent, respectively. Still.)
Back in 2012 Audi bought Italian motorcycle manufacturer extraordinaire Ducati for €860-million which, at the time, probably seemed like a good idea.
If heritage means anything in this industry, then it is surprising that Buick doesn’t make more of its history because the story of the early years of the company is nothing short of astonishing.
For conducting business in the U.S. market, Toyota has historically had several separate business entities: a sales and distribution company headquartered in California (Toyota Motor Sales, USA); manufacturing operations (Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America); a racing subsidiary (Toyota Racing Development, USA); the Toyota Technical Center for R&D in Ann Arbor; and a design facility in California (Calty Design Research, Inc.). On April 1, 2006, Toyota merged its R&D operations and its manufacturing operations into a single company.