Going beyond the GTI and Golf R.
It looks like Volkswagen North America is seriously considering the idea of energizing its lineup of vehicles by offering more performance-oriented models in the near future. Coming from a quick chat with VW North America Chief Operating Officer Johan de Nysschen, Motor Authority revealed that the brand is ready to expand beyond the Golf R and GTI. "Winning over the hearts and minds of enthusiastic opinion leaders in their own circle of associates (is good), and people who are car nuts tend to be drawn to those more aspirational models...If you have them in your portfolio, ultimately you raise brand appeal," he said.
Gallery: 2018 Volkswagen Golf R: Review
Of course, it's not as simple as just picking and choosing from a list of specs and equipment. De Nysschen said that the costs could be staggering, estimating that putting a new powertrain in an existing model would cost, at the very least, $20 million. He also said that while they won't be considering performance variants for all their models in the future, new variants for key models are definitely being considered.
Mitigating costs could be done, he said, with the brand's shared architectures, such as the VW battery-electric MEB platform, and even building the cars in the United States would help drive down some of the costs. "We need to be smart about what we think we can bring to the market, and where we find traction. The Golf R today reliably sells—day in and day out...I think that shows a little bit the potential for the brand, but we need to temper our enthusiasm."
De Nysschen joined Volkswagen of America last year after leading efforts of Cadillac and Inifiniti in introducing high-performance models. He was faced with the challenging task of building up the brand's SUV lineup and regaining customer trust after the widespread diesel scandal. "We've tracked brand trust and confidence, and it took a dive. We've been working very hard to regain that and we have made good progress," he said.