Sunday, June 23

Volkswagen’s Lost Dominance: Is the Electric Golf the Brand’s Lifeline?

Volkswagen's Lost Dominance: Is the Electric Golf the Brand's Lifeline?

Although several brands fall under the Volkswagen Group umbrella, the Volkswagen automotive brand is not as popular or as dominant as it once was.

Traditionally, the VW Golf is the best-selling car in Europe, but recent changes in the automotive landscape have changed things. Toyota has become a more popular brand in Europe, Stellantis has come out of its financial doldrums to be extremely popular and provide several brands, and Renault has a relatively new portfolio of great products. These changes create a market in which Volkswagen is not as dominant as it has been.

Changes are imminent in Wolfsburg

VW is based in Wolfsburg, Germany, and has been the mainstream alternative to Audi (a Volkswagen Group brand), BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. With so many other brands in the market and VW’s issues that date back to 2015, things are looking bleak.

Just to refresh memories, in 2015 VW had to pay fines in the United States associated with its diesel emissions scandal. Fast forward to 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, created serious supply chain issues for the brand.

As a result of the challenges facing this long-term automotive brand, some cost-cutting measures are being implemented. Things are bad enough that Motor1 reported Thomas Schafer, VW’s CEO, said:

“With many of our pre-existing structures, processes, and high costs, we are no longer competitive as the Volkswagen brand.”

Some of the changes taking place will be partial and early retirements of employees, but this will only be a fraction of the cost-cutting measures required. The company intends to cut costs in other ways while still pushing for its electric vehicle future.

What’s coming next for VW?

Could we see the Volkswagen Group cut back on vehicles that don’t produce high profit margins? If that’s the case, the VW lineup of EVs could be in trouble. In many cases, current electric vehicles aren’t profitable and cause automakers to take losses as EVs gain a foothold in the market.

That said, VW will likely use the money saved during its cost-cutting to support its new SSP electric platform that will be used to underpin the ninth-generation, electric-only Golf. Could this small EV Golf quickly become the most popular car in Europe again, or will VW take itself down a road that creates disaster for one of the longest-running names in the automotive industry? We might learn the answer much sooner than expected.

When will the EV Golf arrive?

The ninth-generation VW Golf will have a full lineup of trims and variants, but all will be driven by an electric-only powertrain. This could be how Volkswagen regains its dominant position in the European market. This new Golf could arrive around the end of the decade, with an upgrade being added for the 2024 model year. This movement is a smart change for the popular Golf, considering the EU ban on new cars with combustion engines, which begins in 2025.

Earlier this year, Volkswagen announced intentions to sell only EVs in Europe starting this year, but that might not be the case any longer. The new electric Golf could arrive as early as 2028 when the new SSP platform is up and running. The Golf is not planned for the MEB platform.

Why is the VW Golf so popular?

The Golf is a huge reason for the dominant position of Volkswagen in the European market, and it’s been one of the most popular and fun cars to drive in the United States as well. In fact, when you think of a hot hatch, the Golf GTI or Golf R often find their way into the top five on the list, often being the top models.

The Golf GTI is the most popular version of this little VW in the US. The relative affordability, coupled with the impressive power and sporty packaging, make it an easy choice when it’s time to enjoy a great drive. This little hatchback brings the benefits of European goodness and a cool package of practicality, efficiency, and fun in one great package.

Go for the GTI 380 package

Although the Golf R is the sportiest version of this little hot hatch, the VW Golf GTI with the 380 package gives you the qualities that make it fun to drive. The 380 package adds a standard adaptive suspension and gloss black 19-inch alloy wheels to the already fun-to-drive GTI with the manual transmission.

While the C-suite in Wolfsburg figures out how to make Volkswagen a dominant brand in Europe again, you can enjoy the fun and active drive of the VW Golf, which is one of the most impressive and fun hatchbacks in the market today.

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