ORLANDO, Fla. -- Volkswagen's Eos convertible won't be delayed as long as expected, dealers learned at their make meeting.
A few weeks ago, Volkswagen of America told dealers they wouldn't get the Passat-based hardtop convertible until September - not the best time to start selling an open-air vehicle.
Now Adrian Hallmark, executive vice president of Volkswagen of America since last fall, says the car likely will be in showrooms in June because problems with the folding roof have been solved.
The Eos adds to a busy launch year for VW. With Hallmark newly installed at the helm and important new products on the way, VW seeks to increase sales by at least 5 percent this year.
Hallmark said the key is "getting the product positioned right and getting the brand image where it needs to be."
Dealers saw the first fruits of VW's change in advertising agencies at the make meeting. VW replaced its longtime advertising agency last year with Crispin Porter + Bogusky of Miami. The agency's first work promotes the new Golf-based GTI.
"It is exciting, was well received, and will bring people back to our brand," said Bob Grace, dealer council chairman and owner of Southpoint Volkswagen in Baton Rouge, La.
Dealers also got an update on new products through 2008. "We have a lot of white space in our portfolio, and we need to fill it," said Grace.
This year VW also introduces the GTI, Golf and Passat wagon. Next year's launches include the Jetta wagon and possibly a performance car similar to the previous generation Golf-based R32.
VW says it also is considering a production version of the GX3 concept - a three-wheel vehicle with a 1.6-liter engine that would be priced under $18,000.
"Dealers only want to know how fast and many GX3s we can get," said Grace.
In 2008, dealers will get a minivan developed by the Chrysler group and a smaller SUV based on the VW Golf.
"We have to get awareness up, and we have to get back on more people's shopping lists," said Grace. "With these new products and the advertising agency, we have a double-edged approach."
With sales up in December and January, VW told dealers it wants to keep the sales momentum going while driving up product and service quality.
Dealers were also told that they have a role to play in improving VW quality. "The dealer initiative is to deliver a trouble-free car that has been serviced and is clean," said Grace. "That commitment has to come from the dealers."
You may e-mail Diana T. Kurylko at [email protected]