2011 Volkswagen Phaeton
An example of biting off more than a brand can chew, the last Volkswagen Phaeton was a troubled car in many ways. Nonetheless, Volkswagen appears to be bringing the next-generation version of the Phaeton back to the U.S.
Speaking with Inside Line
, Volkswagen's R&D chief Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg said the new Phaeton "will be offered in the U.S." That's a definitive statement--even if not yet officially announced--and it piques our interest in how the VW Group aims to make this go at the luxurious large sedan different.
The last Phaeton was priced through the stratosphere, especially as relates to other Volkswagen-brand products, and had its own share of mechanical and electricl gremlins as well. That combination, together with Audi's higher prestige status here in the U.S., conspired to make the Phaeton a complete sales failure. Despite its struggle in the U.S., however, the Phaeton has lived on in Europe, as pictured above.
While the new Phaeton will (presumably) overcome the construction shortfalls of the previous model, it's unclear how it will fare differently in terms of brand and image. Worse yet, there is a very strong set of competitive offerings from BMW, Cadillac, and, soon, Mercedes, that will make it even harder for VW to carve out space in the large luxury sedan marketplace--and that's before you consider the lingering bitter aftertaste the last Phaeton left with potential buyers.