Posted by: David Welch on January 17, 2008
The Routan? What’s a Routan? Believe it or not, that’s the name of Volkswagen’s new minivan, which will be built by Chrysler at its factory in Windsor, Ontario. The company says it’s a combo of “route” and “an” which is the suffix of other VW van names. Naturally. Who couldn’t have figured that out without an explanation? This has to be the most meaningless and convoluted car name in history. It sounds like the name of the tour bus for obnoxious rap troupe Wu-Tang Clan. Or it could be the name of a character from Winnie the Pooh.
In any case, this is one new vehicle that simply won’t sell, especially if they use that name in the U.S. Near as I can tell, the car buying public isn’t asking for a Volkswagen minivan. Sure, there are a few nostalgic types who remember road trips in a VW Bus. But with minivan sales down 18.5% last year, one could argue that they’re really not asking for anyone’s vans. I’d be shocked if VW sold 20,000 of these. Suvs are hipper than minivans, and VW managed to sell just 8,800 copies of its Toureg last year. If VW lovers don’t want a crossover suv—albeit an overpriced and overweight one with lousy fuel economy—they are not going to want a rebadged Chrysler either. And this is the company that says it’s going to get toe-to-toe with Toyota.