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VW Axes Routan Minivan

Move comes as last Microvan rolls off the line. But new CrossBlue Model in the works.

by on Sep.24, 2013

Gone -- and largely forgotten -- the VW Routan.

Volkswagen has taken the axe to not one but two of its minivans. Just days after confirming the end of a 60-year run for the aging Microbus, the legendary Hippie Van of the ‘60s, the German maker says it has also pulled the plug on the newer – but far less successful Routan minivan.

The Routan was the product of a joint venture between VW and Chrysler, and was little more than a slightly revised version of the American maker’s Dodge Caravan minivan. First introduced during the 2009 model-year, the three-row people-mover failed to generate much demand, sales averaging barely 11,500 a year, barely a quarter of the 45,000 and 50,000 units VW had originally hoped to sell annually.

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Only a handful of 2014 models have been produced and none will be sold to the public, according to Volkswagen.

Introduced at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show, the Routan was actually a holdover project originally conceived between Volkswagen and the former DaimlerChrysler.  It came to market about the same time the German and U.S. auto arms of that ill-fated alliance broke up.

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Routan to Remain in VW Line-Up

Production to restart by next summer.

by on Dec.19, 2012

The VW Routan has failed to generate much interest in the weak minivan market.

Despite having scuttled plans to produce a modern-day interpretation of the legendary Microbus, Volkswagen hasn’t given up on the U.S. minivan market – but odds are that many potential buyers don’t even know about the VW Routan.

The maker’s current minivan model, assembled for VW by Chrysler, has certainly not set the market on fire, leading to a shutdown of production earlier this year. But the German maker insists the Routan will be back, with new models set to roll out of Chrysler’s Windsor, Ontario minivan plant by next summer.

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Volkswagen’s plan is “to offer the 2013 model year Routan,” spokesman Scott Vaizin told Automotive News, though for now there’s apparently enough inventory to satisfy the market’s limited demand. He added that it’s “a safe bet” production will resume in 2013, as well.

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VW Product Blitz Could Include New 7-Seat SUV and Bulli Microvan

But diesels are driving big gains for the German maker.

by on Aug.24, 2011

The sporty new Golf R joins VW's U.S. line-up for 2012.

With a goal of more than doubling sales – to 800,000 a year – by 2018, Volkswagen officials are rapidly ramping up the maker’s U.S. line-up and expect to have several new offerings roll into dealer showrooms over the next few years, including a 7-passenger SUV and possibly a production version of the popular Bulli microvan concept.

But the maker’s secret weapon may be its increasing reliance on diesel powertrains, which are gaining converts at a rapid rate.  Facing the prospect of tough new fuel economy regulations, Volkswagen is betting on the latest generation of oil-burners — though it will also be rolling out an array of electrified offerings, including hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles, the maker’s top U.S. executive told TheDetroitBureau.com.

“Our challenge is to dig deeper” and come up with new products “appropriate for the U.S. market,” explained Jonathan Browning, the British automotive veteran who signed on as CEO of the Volkswagen Group of America last year.

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The good news, he suggested, is that there is a deep well of product available within the global VW portfolio.  Even better, the long-ignored U.S. subsidiary is now high on the radar screen in Wolfsburg, which sees a strong presence in the States as essential to Volkswagen’s global ambitions.  By 2018 the maker intends to be selling 10 million vehicles annually worldwide, a target that could position it as a serious challenger to both Toyota – the global leader for the last several years – and General Motors, which is expected to regain the sales crown this year.

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