Volkswagen Phaeton Confirmed For U.S. Return

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The Volkswagen Phaeton didn't fare so well the first time around in the U.S. Priced too high for its marque's cachet and without the styling or performance to compete with BMW or Mercedes, the Phaeton was, in short, a flop, dead after just three years on sale in America. But Volkswagen thinks it has improved the formula, and is planning to bring the Phaeton back.

Rumors of a U.S. return have circulated for years now. Sales of the Phaeton have continued outside the U.S., and have actually improved over the model run, but the Phaeton that's bringing the swagger back to VW will be all-new, based on the new Bentley Continental GT's platform. The big W-12 engine, however, isn't expected to make the crossover to VW this time around.

Instead, VW will dial back the ostentation to more reasonable realms, sticking with V-6 and V-8 models plus the hybrid system shared with the 2012 Touareg. Diesels will also play a role in the new car, though it's not yet clear if they'll make their way to the U.S.

Still, it will be a gamble for VW, but a calculated one. The U.S., despite shrinking by 30 percent over the last two years, is still the top market for high-end sedans, and VW thinks it needs the Phaeton here to boost its image, and ultimately, volume sales of its smaller, more affordable cars. The Phaeton isn't expeted Stateside until 2013 at the earliest.

The questions to be answered now are: Is the memory of the last Phaeton's failure too fresh? And will it be able to compete with BMW, Mercedes, and Lexus?

[Bloomberg, AutoWeek]

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Comments (8)
  1. I have other questions. Will this new Phaeton eat away at Audi A6, A7 and A8 sales? Or will the new Phaeton be able to compete with the new A7 and A8?

  2. Good questions, Andre. I'm not sure VW knows the answers. Since they're trying to grow total VW Group sales, I'd imagine they aren't going to target direct competition with Audi, but rather add incremental buys alongside the Audi range while building image for VW's own smaller vehicles by association with Phaeton. Whether that'll actually work, however, is anyone's guess. It didn't work last time.

  3. VW owns Audi and Porsche, the more cars they make / share with a lower price, the more innner-company cannibalization will take place. I don't understand why VW headquarters will want to compete the same car at $20K less vs. the A8. This does not make sense. The A8 most be overprices as a result because it's virtually the same car.

  4. Yaaaay! More great second-hand bargains by 2014! The first gen Phaeton is an absolute steal, if you can find one.

  5. Is VW trying to start a civil war between its different brands? Because bringing this to America is a bad idea.

  6. Nothing against Volkswagen and they do build great cars but truth of the matter is their sales demographic is very different to cousin Audi.
    Plus the car is so square and unadventurous ( Passat CC looks more upmarket in comparison ).

  7. This car should compete directly with the Toyota Avalon, and thus should be priced just a hair below at around $32K. Any more, and it definitely loses its buyer value. If VW or anyone else thinks this car competes with Mercedes, BMW, or Lexus they're wrong. Its main competition should be: Avalon, Accord, Ford Taurus, and Genesis.

  8. I own a 2006 VW Phaeton and can tell you that it's an incredible rare mixture of power, engineering and detail. Totally unlike the Audi. The Phaeton woodwork fit and finish, just to name one attribute, is among the best I'v ever seen in any car. The crossover parts and leather quality from VW's Bentley unit are evident all over as is the smooth and powerful drive train. Friends cannot believe this is a VW. It's a very, very cool 4-door sedan. And I like the rarity of it with only 235 2006 Phaetons on the road stateside.

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