How Volkswagen Cut $7,000 From The 2012 Passat

Illustration for article titled How Volkswagen Cut $7,000 From The 2012 Passat

Volkswagen vows that the 2012 Passat will lead the German automaker back to glory in America. Step one: Cutting $7,000 from the Passat's price. Here's what happens to a near-luxury car when the bean counters get behind the wheel.

Illustration for article titled How Volkswagen Cut $7,000 From The 2012 Passat

You Don't Need No Fancy Struts

Cars have thousands of parts, and automakers on a hunt to squeeze costs examine each and every one down to the penny. One of the first targeted by any good bean counter: the hood support strut standard on today's Passats. Who needs a fancy lifter doohickey when there's nothing under there a driver can fuss with anyway? One piece of metal rod per customer, bent appropriately.


The hood also conceals another cost secret: The Passat's a new car with older engines. All-new cars from all-new factories are more prone to quality glitches to begin with; using carryover engines saves money and quality control headaches.

Illustration for article titled How Volkswagen Cut $7,000 From The 2012 Passat

That Goes For Your Trunk, Too

Gooseneck hinges also come from the bent-metal school of simple auto parts, ones that some automakers ditch to save on trunk space. The new Passat's cavernous badonk has room to spare, so those goosenecks can swing down as they please.

Illustration for article titled How Volkswagen Cut $7,000 From The 2012 Passat

Take With A Grain Of Grain

The average car sports nearly 300 pounds of plastic, much of it surrounding the passengers. Making those chemicals feel like something other than a Fisher-Price toy has become a specialty among some automakers, which emboss plastics with leather-like grain patterns to make them seem more expensive. The Passat uses this trick in combination with its fake wood panel — but the bottom half of its dash lacks the padding behind the plastic cover VW has offered before.

Illustration for article titled How Volkswagen Cut $7,000 From The 2012 Passat

Audi Get The LEDs

The European Passat rims its headlamp cluster with a passel of expensive LEDs, but the American version has nothing more expensive than four standard light bulbs, even in the top-of-the-line SEL versions, which were the only ones VW displayed on the show floor.


VW's claims the Passat may avoid some of the encheapening applied to the Jetta; disc brakes, for one, are standard on all Passats. But we may have to wait a few months to see all of the changes VW made to hit its most important target.

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In a lot of comments I hear this undertone of bwaaaaaaaa, we never get the Diesel, bwaaaa we only get the cheap plastics version, bwaaaaa we don't get the T5 Multivan.

The reason is this: Car prices in the US are too low for German car makers to be able to sell their cars at acceptable (to them) margins.

If you were to buy the Passat Sedan currently offered in the US in Germany with comparable options you land at a price around 39,000 €. That is over 50,000 $!

The US price meanwhile is 27,945 $.

2011 Passat Wagon 2.0 TDI 170 hp Base Price 37,275 € which is 48,138.8 $

2011 Multivan T5 2.0 TDI 177 hp Base Price 56.263,20 € which is 72,661.10 $

At German prices VeeDub would sell very few cars indeed in the US. So they are doing the logical thing: Move production to the same market, adjust product to the local market (make it cheaper) and produce at competitive prices.

I think the reason for the price difference is the German automotive press. They are so absolutely anal about every last detail that car makers have to spend tons of money just to avoid being slammed for some mundane detail.

Example: In 2008 i was in the US and rented a 2008 Impala. Granted it was a rental car and probably had no options at all there were two things that struck me: 1. It did not have anti-lock brakes. 2. The carpet in the trunk was just lying there, i.e. not fixed to anything so you could just yank it out.

A car without anti-lock brakes would not sell a single unit in Germany and a media shitstorm would label the maker as baby-eating monsters. The first car review that caught a whiff of "carpet-gate" would slam the quality as "20th century" and from then on every detail of the car would be picked apart.