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VW Tries to Jumpstart US Interest with New Jetta

Gotta give the folks at VW credit.

2011 Volkswagen Jetta
Source: Volkswagen of America
2011 Volkswagen Jetta

Despite a woeful track record in the U.S. in the last ten years, they haven't given up on winning over Americans.

In fact, the folks at VW believe they can eventually sell a million vehicles here.

It's an ambitious goal for a company that sold roughly 300,000 (including its luxury line Audi) here last year.

So how will VW get there?

For starters, it's rolling out a new Jetta (see video below) that should start to bring people back into VW showrooms. Priced at roughly $16,000, the '11 Jetta will come with four engine options (including turbo diesel) and has the styling to compete with other compact sedans. After rolling out year after year of lackluster models, VW doesn't need a hit as much as it simply needs a model that shows Americans it truly understands what they want.

You can hardly blame a lot of people for wondering what's happened with VW. Aside from some quirky commercials, the brand has largely been off the radar with many Americans. Last year sales slumped to 214,000 as the company paid the price for a decade of misreading or misplaying the U.S. market.

  • The Phaeton bombed as VW's attempt to go the luxury route with this high-end sedan. A total bust.
  • The Tiguan failed to catch on in America's growing and competitive crossover market.
  • The Routan has struggled to get noticed by minivan buyers.

The good news is VW at least realizes it needs to compete in the U.S. especially as it prepares to open a new plant in Tennessee. The company has committed to finally making winning in the U.S. a priority. And if VW can win here, it would go a long ways to helping the automaker achieve its stated goal of catching Toyota by 2018 and becoming the world's #1 automaker.

That's a long ways off. It still needs to consistently roll out models that connect with buyers and even more importantly, have better reliability. For starters I'll settle for VW giving us models (and more than 2 or 3) that make us say, "Hey, what is that? I want one of those."

I recently told a friend in Boulder, Colorado, "I love coming out here because I see Volkswagens everywhere. Granted, they're the old microbuses and bugs, but at least someone is driving a VW."

Let's hope that starts to change with the new Jetta.

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