The pickings continue to get slimmer and slimmer. If you’re a wagon fan, blame Volkswagen for driving another nail in the coffin as the automaker says it will drop the U.S. versions of both the Golf SportWagen and Golf Alltrack.
That will leave only a handful of station wagons available on the U.S. market, with some opting for alternative names, such as the Buick Regal TourX.
For its part, VW plans to concentrate more and more of its product development dollars on the sport-utility vehicles that have been rolling into its line-up, such as the Atlas and redesigned Tiguan, said Volkswagen of America President and CEO Scott Keogh.
“SUVs have definitely assumed the mantle of family haulers from the station wagons and minivans we remember from our childhoods,” he said in a statement announcing the production cuts.
Sales of the two models have been weakening for years, a trend that has hammered all station wagons in the U.S. market. For all of 2018, VW sold a grand total of just 14,123 Golf SportWagens, a 47% decline. Demand tumbled another 36% for the first seven months of this year, averaging out to barely 750 of the wagons a month. By comparison, U.S. sales of Volkswagen’s various SUVs rose 12% through the end of July, despite the phase-out of the original Touareg model.
VW has said nothing about plans for the Golf SportWagen and Golf Alltrack models in other parts of the world. Utility vehicles are gaining momentum almost everywhere, but remain a much more limited segment of the key European market, so they could remain part of the Volkswagen family there.
European manufacturers, drawing from their home market portfolios, had been among the last to offer wagons in the U.S. Even the Buick Regal TourX had European heritage, essentially rebadging a design developed by parent General Motors’ German-based Opel subsidiary. With Opel now owned by France’s Group PSA, however, Buick’s wagon-by-another-name isn’t expected to have a long future.
Wagons have been living on life-support for decades, taking a body blow with the introduction of the Chrysler minivan family in 1984 and taking another major shot from the SUVs and CUVs that now account for about 47% of American new vehicle sales.
Volkswagen, which struggled to cope with the transformation, has actually gotten ahead of the curve, the automaker noting that its various utes generated 50% of its total U.S. sales through the end of July. And it could pull even further ahead. The automaker noted in an announcement, with three more utility vehicles coming over the next 24 months:
- The five-seat Atlas Cross Sport set to be unveiled later this year;
- The all-electric ID. Crozz set to debut early in 2020; and
- A smaller crossover that will slot underneath the Tiguan when it reaches U.S. showrooms in 2021.
The ID. Crozz is one amongst an array of all-electric models the German automaker is preparing. Significantly, it is reviving the once-popular Volkswagen Microbus in battery form as the upcoming ID. Buzz. And it has even hinted that it might bring back the Beetle which went out of production earlier this month, showing off a concept dune buggy at the New York International Auto Show in April. Beetles were widely used for dune buggy conversions in the 1960s and 1970s.
Could there be a place in the line-up for a station wagon revival sometime in the future? VWoA Keogh seems to be leaving that door open.
“As we look towards the future,” he said, “both our expanded SUV lineup and the upcoming ID. family of electric vehicles will bring the opportunity to combine the style and space people want in a variety of ways. As the ID. BUZZ concept demonstrates, the flexibility of our EV platform gives us the ability to revive body styles of the past, so anything is possible.”