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Going Upmarket

John Federico

By now, you're probably familiar with the Volkswagen Phaeton - the $70,000+ luxury car that VW introduced last year.

This morning, I noticed yet more evidence of "The People's Car" going upmarket. VW has introduced the 8 cylinder engine used in the Phaeton (the "W8") into the Passat line. The car I'd seen this morning also had 4Motion all-wheel-drive and my guess is that it was the high-end GLX model.

That's got to bring the Passt GLX to what, $45K?

It's not that I have a problem with VW going upmarket, but most car companies have their upmarket brand and their mid-market brand:

  • Toyota / Lexus

  • Honda / Acura

  • Nissan / Infiniti

  • BMW / Mini

  • GM / Saab

  • Ford / Jaguar (Although the new Jag look like a Taurus, anyway... ;) )

And VW? They already have their family of luxury cars. Hello? Remember Audi?

So, why the need to go upmarket with the VW brand? Are they afraid that their loyal customers are now making more money and will leave the brand behind? Then why not introduce them to Audi?

Generally, when I think of a luxury car, I don't think of VW, but I do think of Audi. Why create confusion in the mind of your customers? Especially when you start to compete with yourself.