The announcement of a wide-ranging list of updates from Volkswagen Australia this week appears to show that the German brand is serious about being even more successful Down Under.
The updates across the majority of the brand's passenger car range may not have seen heavy discounts akin to some bigger-volume sellers in Australia, but it's clear the brand is pushing its own agenda in the competitive local market under the guidance of John White, the company's managing director.
In the 28 months since White took the top job in Australia in March 2013, the brand has remained steady in terms of sales volumes. In 2012 Volkswagen sold 54,835 vehicles; in 2013 the company sold 54,892 vehicles; and in 2014 the marque moved 54,801 units – and that was the year that White took the knife to the model range, cutting the Up! city car and Eos convertible, while placing the Scirocco on hiatus.
In 2015, though, with a range of cars that has been widely rethought to reduce complexity, the brand is kicking goals. With June sales figures just out, Volkswagen Australia has sold a record 32,020 vehicles, which is a jump of 12.1 per cent on 2014's mid-year result (28,571).
In May, VW jumped to seventh spot on the Australian car sales charts, in front of the likes of Subaru, Kia and Nissan. Overall in 2015 the brand is sitting in eighth spot, with Nissan and Ford just ahead – but if it continues to track at this rate, it could record its best year ever in Australia, and it could be within striking distance of fifth spot overall behind the big-selling Toyota (1), Mazda (2), Hyundai (3), Holden (4) and Mitsubishi (5).
White has previously expressed a desire to get the brand inside the top five.
A lot of that growth has come from the Golf range, which is up 12.4 per cent so far in 2015 in a small car segment that is down by a huge 7.6 per cent.
Other success stories for the brand - albeit from smaller bases - include the updated-in-2015 4x4 Amarok (up 21.1 per cent compared to this time last year), the updated-in-2015 Jetta (up 51.7 per cent year-to-date) the updated-in-2015 Touareg (up 56.0 per cent YTD) and the more affordable, better equipped Polo (launched August 2014, up 51.9 per cent YTD).
And while it has lost some niche models from the range, VW’s local arm is set to see an onslaught of new and refreshed product in its showrooms before the end of the year.
Then there’s the commercial vehicle side of things, which has seen the Amarok upgraded earlier this year, and will also see the introduction of an all-new Caddy small van alongside the new-generation T6 Transporter, Caravelle and Multivan models.
Volkswagen Australia public relations manager Kurt McGuiness indicated to CarAdvice that the Australia-specific upgrades should give buyers even better value for money, but also suggested the move isn't driven by any pointed attempt to increase sales.
"We don't discuss sales figures and expectations, but we're happy with how we've gone for the first six months," McGuiness said, refusing to comment specifically on whether the brand is targeting a top-five spot.
As for when those wide-ranging changed models announced this week will start to hit showrooms, McGuiness suggested it will vary depending on the model.