Volkswagen is understood to have delayed its big next-generation Phaeton sedan, reportedly as part of a push to improve returns through lower production and material costs.
The current Phaeton, launched in 2002 and face-lifted most recently in 2010, was originally scheduled to be replaced this year. But, according to business paper Bloomberg, insiders have confirmed cost-focused delays on the new model.
The report claims the new model is ready for production, but the recent resignation of Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piech - the driving force behind the anomalous Phaeton’s development - has inspired a review of the big flagship’s place in the brand’s otherwise volume-focused range.
Under Piech’s direction, the Phaeton was conceived as a large luxurious sedan that could deliver nearly Audi-rivalling interior comfort - while travelling at speeds as high as 300km/h.
Even now, nearly 15 years on from its initial launch, the Phaeton is built in Germany by technicians wearing white gloves and crisp uniforms, attaching every panel and specially-selected genuine woodgrain accent by hand.
If the new Phaeton does make its way to production, we can likely expect more affordable materials to feature, along with being integrated into the modern manufacturing processes employed with the wider Volkswagen range.
We may yet see the Phaeton program scratched all-together, although a return to the US and a continued assault on the Chinese market - where the current model has proven popular - could help to improve its business case.
Regardless, lowering costs - and possibly the purchase price, which begins at €89,650 in Europe, three times the price of a Passat - will be key to justifying the new Phaeton’s production schedule.
Details on the new model are still to be revealed, although we could see its styling cues draw inspiration from the C Coupe GTE concept revealed in April.