The past 10 years have been rough for Volkswagen in the United States. Dieselgate immediately comes to mind, but in a recent interview with 60 Minutes, CEO Herbert Diess concedes the company hasn't made the best decisions when it comes to the US market. And with all kinds of variables now in play, becoming "relevant" may not be that easy.
Specifically, Diess told 60 Minutes that "we have to come back in the US. We have to become relevant in the US, and we are in the right way." He also stated point-blank that "we didn't take the US customer seriously enough, no? We tried to sell the European product here in the US."
Some might find a bit of irony in that statement, as vehicles such as the now-dead Passat had separate versions for US and European markets. The once-popular VW Golf, which debuted a new generation for the 2020 model year, was dropped from the US in its least expensive trim. It's now offered solely in GTI format, starting near $30,000.
Gallery: 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI US Version
So, how exactly does Volkswagen come back to the US in the right way? The interview points to electrification, specifically with the ID. Buzz that will be offered in the US market. However, it won't arrive until 2024, and it will only be offered as a passenger van. Other markets will offer a cargo version for fleet use, but regardless of the trim, it launches with 201 horsepower (150 kilowatts) driving just the rear wheels. As for range and price, VW hasn't offered up that information just yet.
Gallery: 2022 ID. Buzz
In the meantime, there's the ID.4 which garnered 16,742 sales in 2021. It's well behind VW's best-selling vehicle in the States, that being the Atlas SUV with 115,687 sales. It's also behind the canceled Passat, but did handily beat the Golf GTI which managed just 6,183 sales last year. Admittedly, it was an abbreviated sales year as the current generation didn't reach dealerships until late in 2021. However, compared to 2020 sales figures, the GTI still didn't sell as many units as the ID.4.
In 2012, VW reached 500,000 annual sales. Things began to slide after that, and then came the Dieselgate scandal that pushed sales down to 323,000 in 2016. It's been a very slow rise for VW since then, posting year-over-year gains until 2020 when the bottom fell out yet again. VW ended 2021 with 375,030 total sales, a rise of 15 percent from 2020.