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New VW Golf to be replaced by 2008

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Short shelf life

New VW Golf to be replaced by 2008

By GREG KABLE

AutoWeek | Published 03/29/06, 8:39 am et

Volkswagen’s new Golf—scheduled for introduction later this year in the North Ameri-can market—is headed for one of the shortest product lifecycles in history if VW boss Wolfgang Bernhard gets his way.

Word out of Germany is Bernhard plans to chop two years off the existing model’s lifecycle in an effort to improve production efficiency and add profitability to a car that is considered crucial to the carmaker’s financial future.

Conceived to remain in production beyond the end of the decade, today’s fifth-generation Golf is now scheduled for replacement during the third quarter of 2008, meaning it will have been on sale here for about two years before a cheaper-to-build sixth-generation model is unveiled in Europe. The fifth-gen Golf has been on sale in Europe since 2003, but the first version of the car didn’t arrive in the United States until the Golf-based 2006 GTI went on sale in February (“Top of the Line,” Jan. 9).

First introduced in 1974, the Golf has traditionally operated on at least a seven-year model cycle. However, the inherent sophistication of the latest model coupled with excessive build times at VW’s heavily unionized Wolfs-burg plants in Germany has made the Golf “horrendously expensive to produce,” according to one high-ranking Wolfsburg source. Currency imbalances further diminish Golf’s profitability in the United States.

VW wants to pull the introduction of the new model forward, streamline production operations and diversify the Golf lineup to include a new coupe and a compact off-roader based on the Concept A revealed at Geneva (“Swiss Spotlight,” March 13). All this is intended to help VW retain Golf’s position at the top of the European sales charts, while chasing a 10-percent gain in productivity over the next four years.

Under Bernhard’s watch, VW plans to make the next Golf more visually attractive yet significantly cheaper to produce. “For the production of the Golf in Wolfsburg we require two-and-a-half times the number of hours required by the best of the competition,” says Bernhard, who joined VW after making a name for himself at Chrysler in the United States, where he is credited with huge advances in production efficiency.

Information obtained by AutoWeek indicates the sixth-generation Golf will ride on a lightly modified version of today’s platform, including its multilink rear suspension. The car will get new sheetmetal, run advanced direct-injection engines and will offer advanced features such as navigation and a USB-compatible audio system.

With sales of the traditional Golf hatchbacks on the wane, Bernhard is reportedly studying a proposal to create distinct versions of the three- and five-door models. Three-door Golfs will get a sportier slant—in the process creating a more suitable basis for the next-generation GTI and a successor to the R32—with five-door models filling the traditional people-mover role.

Link: http://www.autoweek.com/apps/pbcs.dll/arti...E/60327016/1065

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Shows you that others can top GM's myopia...I'm no Vdub fan, but Piech just crippled that company in the short term. It's sad, from an enthusiasts POV

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Instead of redoing the Golf, VW should make a Phaeton coupe followed by a Volkswagen-branded sailboat. It only makes sense...

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