Volkswagen Tiguan takes on Japanese
German importer Volkswagen is setting itself up for a head on battle with Japanese brands Toyota, Nissan and Honda with the launch of its all-new Tiguan softroader.
– David Twomey
Volkswagen says it recognizes that these three brands have nearly 60 per cent of the 90,000 plus sales in the compact SUV market. And Managing Director , Jutta Dierks, says the VW Tiguan can take at least 5000 sales a year away from the Japanese brands.
VW cited the Nissan X-Trail, Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V as direct competitors for the Tiguan.
Ms Dierks, speaking at the Australian launch of the Tiguan in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney said that VW would struggle to satisfy customer demand this year as the company only had an initial 750 diesel Tiguans available for sale.
She said that sales in 2009 would not be a problem as production for Australia had been “locked in”, but a decision to launch the car early as a result of diesel only models being available meant that supply would be short during the rest of 2008.
“We believe we have a very good car on our hands and it will take away from Japanese petrol sales by turning them to a European diesel.”
The Tiguan has been a huge sales success in Europe since its launch late last year and there is currently 60,000 order backlog for the vehicle.
CarAdvice is at the launch of the Tiguan but driving impressions will have to wait another day as we have only had the marketing and technical briefings so far.
However, we can say that the vehicle is impressive, starting at $33,990 for the six-speed manual petrol version with the 125kw TSi engine and rising to a range topping $42,90 for the 147kW with a six-speed automatic.
In between is the two models being initially launched the all-new 103kW common-rail TDi with either six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, priced at $35,990 and $38,290 respectively.
The vehicle comes with a range of class leading features including front, side and curtain airbags, stability control and a five star ANCAP safety rating.
Both the yet to be released petrol and the now available diesel engines are all-new and feature turbocharging across the range.
The common-rail TDi engines, like the petrol variants, are Euro 4 compliant and the diesel engines are also yet to be introduced Euro 5 compliant.
Ms Dierks said that she expected the Tiguan to become Volkswagen Group Australia’s second top selling model behind the Golf, which currently accounts for 11,000 sales a year.
“We see this vehicle as becoming a substantial player in our volume,” she said.
“if you really want to become a significant volume player in the Australian market then you need to go into this SUV segment, as it is enormously popular in Australia.”
Commenting on the fact that VW had significantly built its volume on diesel engine sales and the escalating price of this fuel, she said that it was a growing concern.
“We are watching the price of diesel very closely and I have to say if it goes much higher then it may hurt our sales.”
Ms Dierks added that to date VW had not detected any buyer resistance as a result of the very high price of diesel fuel.
Curently this year VW is selling about 56 per cent of its vehicles with diesel engines.