Nobody is buying Volkswagen’s premium Arteon sedan. Despite the huge popularity of trucks and SUVs, many still want sedans. Think Camry, 3-Series, and Acura TLX. But today, nothing sells like an SUV, and over at VW, the Arteon is selling nothing. For all of 2022, it has only sold 47 sedans.
Granted, there is still a lot of 2022 left, but the Arteon seems to be VW’s worst-selling car since the Phaeton sedan. In 15 years of production, it sold under 85,000 worldwide. Heads rolled over that model. Then there was the retractable top EOS convertible. And badge engineering a Dodge van for America when it has a wonderful one already in Europe.
Why is the VW Arteon selling poorly?
With fastback styling and midsize advantage, one would think that VW should have had a winner. But part of this is a result of its standing in the U.S., which isn’t all that great. Reliability issues have plagued VW for decades. And its stiffer prices haven’t helped.
Sometimes, it underestimates US buyers, and sometimes itself. Or it makes product gaffes like only exporting the ID Buzz in the long-wheelbase version. With the immense interest shown for it, you would think VW would like to shoot for the Moon and see what sticks. Instead, it knows how to market vehicles, until it doesn’t.
What did the Arteon replace?
But we digress. Similar, though better, numbers befell the previous premium-like VW, called the CC. That stood for “comfort coupe,” though it was a four-door. Anyway, it did OK in its first year in 2011. But just a couple of years later, sales plunged to under 10,000 units. By 2016, it sold only 3,200 CCs.
But the next year, VW followed up on the CC with the Arteon. And being a sedan from a German manufacturer, the brand also got a station wagon variant. But in its infinite wisdom, it chose not to import it to the U.S. Yes, wagons don’t sell well in the U.S., but it was a well-proportioned car with Audi-like looks. We think it might have sold better than the Arteon sedan.
How did it sell in previous years?
Nonetheless, VW should have seen the CC writing on the wall. Targeting a more premium buyer, the first year saw sales of under 2,500 Arteons. It did better in 2020, selling over 3,600 of them. Last year, that dropped off to just over 1,000 finding buyers. This year is already looking worse than last year.
Encapsulating this latest escapade in VW America sales, some would say this is an overpriced, underpowered sedan with a VW logo, and that’s its problem. As with the Phaeton and EOS, VW still can’t figure out the U.S. market, after being here for over 70 years. It took Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, and Kia much less time to get their American mojo.
VW is playing a similar game as did GM, Ford, and Chrysler for years. They offered such a wide range of models and price points, that premium Fords saw prices almost identical to Mercury cars, and high-end Mercurys bumped into Lincoln pricing. VW should be looking at the price for an Audi, and back off on its MSRP.