Interview: Volkswagen's VP of Marketing and Strategy, Rainer Michel
Talks Amarok, Chicken Tax and Diesels
Volkswagen's VP of Marketing and Strategy Rainer Michel recently stopped by the Motor Trend HQ to take questions from the staff. Instead, the staff turned things over to its Facebook fans, Twitter followers, Google + fans, and forum members to see what questions they had for Michel. The results were questions on everything from VW importing the Amarok into the U.S., to talking its diesel strategy in North America.
Here are some highlights:
Why can't we get the Scirocco or Amarok in the U.S.? - Various
There's a lot of great products in the portfolio globally but one thing is clear, we have to first do our homework. ... The organization has to focus on [high-volume products like the Jetta and Passat]. What's coming in other years, we will see.
If the Chicken Tax went away, would that help build a business case for the Amarok? -- MT
Chicken tax is certainly a great hurdle to bring anything in that [segment]. I drove [an Amarok] recently on the test track and the stiffness of the body, with the diesel engine is very nice. It's a great car. Even with a hard plastic interior it's nicely designed. ... The circumstances around pickups in the United States are very difficult. It's all about size, power, price, and tremendous loyalty. So even if a Volkswagen guy likes the Amarok as is, the business needs time to think about it and then there's the chicken tax, of course.
Will VW sell the Bulli or another microbus here in North America? - Brian R., via Facebook
No comment. - Michel
We've definitely talked about it, it's still being badgered about, but if we want to grow our brand we've got to be in segments that matter right now. - Scott Vazin, VW vice president of brand communication
Where's the Tiguan TDI? With the TDI SportWagen and other TDI models selling so well, why haven't you brought over more TDI models from Europe? -- SS and Revolution, via Forums
The diesel would be a very nice addition to the Tiguan. Technically it's always a question of where you are in your lifecycle...no doubt the Tiguan with the diesel would be a really great addition. [Any] model we bring to into North America, be it a complete new model or a successor, we are committed to diesel. Diesel is a unique selling point, we are at about 20 percent and we even now think we have the potential to go up to 30 percent easily.