- The Volkswagen Phaeton is still on track for a return to the U.S., but the German automaker is undecided about a timetable.
- "There will come a time when it is right to bring it back to the U.S. marketplace, but what we haven't defined yet is when that will be," Jonathan Browning, Volkswagen of America president and CEO, told Edmunds.
- Industry sources suggest that U.S. sales are at least three years away.
ST. HELENA, California — The Volkswagen Phaeton is still on track for a return to the U.S., but the German automaker is undecided about a timetable.
"There will come a time when it is right to bring it back to the U.S. marketplace, but what we haven't defined yet is when that will be," Jonathan Browning, Volkswagen of America president and CEO, told Edmunds.
Industry sources suggest that U.S. sales are at least three years away.
The car targeted for the United States will be the redesigned Phaeton, which will share a platform and some components with Audi's top sedan, the Audi A8.
Volkswagen introduced the Phaeton to the U. S market in 2003, but the expensive sedan never caught on with shoppers. U.S. buyers viewed Volkswagen as a mass-market, value brand, but the car was priced to compete with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The eight-cylinder model went on sale with a $65,215 sticker price including transportation. The 12-cylinder model was introduced in 2004, starting at $95,215.
Volkswagen sold nearly 2,000 Phaetons in 2004; a little over 800 in 2005, and about 240 in 2006. Volkswagen ended imports to the United States in 2006. However, the Phaeton has continued to be sold outside the United States and continues to be marketed as Volkswagen's top-of-the-line sedan.
Asked about potential pricing and positioning of the redesigned car for the United States, Browning said "that is still far enough away into the future that I really don't want to get into the specifics of the pricing, the content, the technology."
"Clearly it will have to be positioned in a way that it is within reach for the bulk of our customer base (and) that it is a compelling offer in the marketplace," Browning said in an interview. "That also will be driven by the competitive environment at the time. So we will make sure we position it well when we bring it back into the U.S. marketplace."
Unlike in 2003 when the Phaeton was introduced to the U.S. market, Browning said U.S. buyers today are willing to embrace higher-priced Volkswagen models.
"Remember, we have the Touareg today which is like our halo vehicle in terms of levels of technology, sophistication and price point," he said. "It is not as if we are absent from some of those higher-priced segments for the mainstream brands today."
The 2014 Volkswagen Touareg ranges in price from $44,905 for the base model to $65,080 for the Touareg Hybrid. Pricing includes a $910 destination charge.
Edmunds says: Volkswagen reassures consumers that the Phaeton is still in the product plan for the U.S., but the bottom line is, don't hold your breath.