Chicago Auto Show: VW Routan Unveiled

Posted by: David Kiley on February 6, 2008

routan.jpg

When I interviewed VW executives recently, none of them seemed very excited about the VW Routan, a minivan borrowed from Chrysler. It’s no wonder. The Germans are very particular about their hardware and engineering.

Before being ousted at VW, former Chrysler COO Wolfgang Bernhard put this project in motion. The Routan is being built in Canada alongside the Chrysler Town & Country minivan.

VW had wanted to produce a version of the Microbus that it showed at the 2001 Detroit Auto Show. But the company could not make the project work. It had to retail for under $30,000 to be viable, and VW couldn’t do it. With a weaker dollar now than when the decision was made, it probably looks like a good decision now.

But in the end, this is little more than a Chrysler with different tail-lights and grille. The interior is well turned out. And VW says it tuned the suspension to be more VW-like.

Still, with the romance and narrative behind the Microbus, it’s hard to get too excited about this van. Prediction: three or four years of production, disappointing sales, over and out.

Reader Comments

sasha

February 6, 2008 8:40 PM

this is why i think vw will be leaving the american market, because of poor product like this, they can't compete w/cheaper dollar also.

Noz

February 8, 2008 8:25 PM

Perhaps now is the time VW should just bite their bullet and withdraw from the US market and leave it to their clear superiors. I don't think the French or Italians are suffering from their lack of sales here. And we are not suffering from the lack of a Yugo or Trabant, nor a Russian Zim or Zinger, but rather from a continuing surplus of offerings from the Failing Three of Detroit.

VW's real estate could be taken over by the various Koreans, or even a Chinese company, but that one rather is a stretch.

GD

February 14, 2008 5:38 PM

And then they are never heard from again. Soo, it will take 3 years for this minivan line to fade into obscurity, taking a good portion of VW profitability with it (actually they are running at a loss in North America) then they will try design another minivan taking another 5 years and launch something called Borag in 2017, which will also fail. Or, they could simply kill this thing quickly and try to regroup. Or they could retreat, which is probably the safest bet, back to Europe.

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