COPENHAGEN, Denmark – The new Volkswagen Fox is by far Europe’s largest minicar, but VW doesn’t believe it will steal sales from its Polo model.
“In Germany, the Fox starts at E8,950, while the cheapest Polo is 26 percent more expensive, starting at E11,250,” said Uwe Cohrs, VW market launch manager.
The VW Fox is 3830mm long, 190mm longer than the second-largest minicar in the segment, the Ford Ka.
The other new minicar entries, the Toyota Aygo/Peugeot 107/Citroen C1 trio, are at the other end of the segment when it comes to size at a little more than 3400mm.
By comparison, the Fox is 60mm shorter than the Polo that is its basis.
VW is using the Brazil-made Fox to replace the German-built Lupo, which was introduced in 1998. VW was disappointed with the Lupo’s 800,000 sales over its life cycle. It blames the poor showing on the car’s bland styling, lack of room and a relatively high price compared with competitors.
VW is aiming the Fox at the Fiat Panda, Ford Fiesta and Renault Twingo – plus the C1/107/Aygo threesome due this summer.
Last year, minicar sales fell 7.2 percent to 728,924 units compared with 2003. The leader was the Panda, with 185,796 units sold. The Lupo was No. 10, down 41 percent to 25,519 units.
VW declined to say how much it invested to adapt the Fox to Europe. The Fox was originally introduced in Brazil in autumn 2003. It has sold 130,000 units in Latin America since then. VW in Brazil also sells a five-door Fox, which won’t come to Europe.
“With the Fox, we are targeting a very price sensitive customer group, so we are importing just the cheaper three-door, manual-transmission version,” Cohrs said.
Sales in Europe begin at the end of May in Germany. Other continental Europe markets will follow starting in June. Right-hand-drive versions for Ireland and UK arrive in January 2006.
VW declined to give Fox sales targets for Europe.