Posted by: David Kiley on February 6, 2008
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.