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Is The Timing Right For A Lower-Cost Volkswagen Phaeton In The U.S.?


2005 Volkswagen Phaeton W12

2005 Volkswagen Phaeton W12

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Volkswagen’s Phaeton luxury sedan was supposed to re-write the book on German luxury cars, and forever change the way that customers viewed the brand. The brainchild of then-VW Group head Ferdinand Piech, the Phaeton was rumored to have ten very specific (and equally bizarre) design goals.

One of these was that the car should be capable of extended operation at 186 miles per hour, in 122 °F temperatures, while maintaining an interior cabin temperature of 72 °F. Unfortunately, none of the design goals addressed the sales, service and repair habits of U.S. dealerships, and American sales were quickly impacted by dealer service and parts availability issues.

While the Phaeton remains on sale in other parts of the world, the car disappeared from the U.S. market in 2006, a victim of plummeting demand. Much has changed in the U.S. market since then, including the successful launch of Hyundai’s Equus luxury flagship and the reemergence of Volkswagen as a primary brand in the U.S. market.

With a new version of the Phaeton set to launch in Europe in 2015, there are those who believe the time is right to relaunch the Phaeton in the U.S. as well. As Automotive News (subscription required) reports, the new Phaeton will be cost-controlled to better mesh with customer expectations, if and when it’s brought over to this side of the Atlantic.

Price was clearly a limiting factor with the original Phaeton. While a base model could be purchased for around $65,000, opting for a loaded W12 variant raised the sticker price above $100,000. Worse, depreciation on the cars remains tragic, with W12 models now selling in the $15,000-$20,000 range.

To counter this, Volkswagen is said to be pricing the next Phaeton “well below” the $70,000 mark, which puts it directly up against Hyundai’s Equus sedan. Assuming, that is, the German automaker ultimately decides to green-light the model for a second go at the U.S. market.

We hope that Volkswagen has learned a thing or two about how to sell and service luxury cars from Hyundai, too. A lower-priced Phaeton will only succeed in the U.S. market if the previous Volkswagen service and parts demons are exorcised, otherwise, VW is merely setting itself up for a second failure with the same model.

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