No, America Can’t Have a Volkswagen T-Roc, But VW Is Tripling Production Before Production Even Begins

America can’t have the Volkswagen T-Roc. Canada can’t have the Volkswagen T-Roc. As far as we know at this point, Australia can’t have the T-Roc even though the segment in which it competes owns a hefty one-tenth of the Australian market.

Volkswagen nevertheless sees huge global potential for the brand’s new subcompact crossover, all the more so since actually unveiling the new model in late August.

The Volkswagen T-Roc’s Portugal assembly plant will therefore not build a modest 70,000 annual units. Though sales aren’t yet underway, Volkswagen board member Jürgen Stackmann says the automaker has already determined it’s necessary to triple annual production, according to CarAdvice.

Volkswagen does have other plans for America’s small SUV/crossover space. But excluding the T-Roc from the U.S. equation puts the brand even further behind the increasingly crossover-happy American consumer’s buying timeline, a poor result for a brand that gleans only 15 percent of its American volume from utility vehicles.

Market-wide, over 40 percent of the vehicles sold in the United States are now SUVs and crossovers. The T-Roc’s exclusion from the United States explains the reasoning behind Volkswagen’s decision to maintain the old Tiguan’s place in the lineup. It’s now called the Volkswagen Tiguan Limited, and it’s priced at $22,895, or $3,350 less than the new Volkswagen Tiguan. Autoblog, after conversing with Volkswagen director of development Frank Welsch, claims a new small crossover aimed at North America, China, and maybe Russia is due in 2019 or 2020.“We are checking the feasibility of a car which is right between T-Roc and Tiguan, and this could be interesting for America. Volkswagen wants its North American small crossover competitor to be less costly than the T-Roc would be. Of this there can be no doubt: Volkswagen isn’t going to change its U.S. T-Roc plans.

“Let’s be very clear: the T-Roc will not go to the U.S.,” Welsch says.

“We are going to have an SUV that is even smaller than a T-Roc, and it will also not go to the U.S.”

But the T-Roc is clearly destined to be more of a global success than Volkswagen originally thought possible, so a brand that has for far too long set hilariously unrealistic U.S. sales goals while applying a de-prioritized product strategy to those goals — delivering Golfs two years later here than in Europe, for example — will first seek to maximize global subcompact crossover potential before doing anything about the lack of a competitor in the United States.

Clearly, when it comes to the T-Roc, size matters. Volkswagen needs to learn that timing matters, too.

[Image: Volkswagen Group]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.


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