DETROIT -- No, it's not a late April Fool's joke - Volkswagen is bringing back the iconic Rabbit nameplate for its small car in the United States and Canada.
The nameplate change takes effect for the fifth generation of the vehicle, which goes on sale in early summer. VW said Tuesday that the 2006 Rabbit would have a base price of $15,620, including shipping, for the two-door hatchback. The lineup also will include a four-door hatchback.
VW has sold the vehicle under the Golf name, which it uses globally, in the United States and Canada since 1984. The original Rabbit was sold in the United States from late 1974 through 1984, and built in VW's factory in Westmoreland, Pa., from 1978 to 1988.
"We think we have some opportunities to do something creative with the Rabbit nameplate," spokesman Steve Keyes said.
VW also recognizes that the Golf nameplate has never really caught on with North American consumers, Keyes added, as it was overshadowed by the Jetta sedan and wagon.
In 2005, VW sold 15,690 Golfs in the United States, compared with 104,063 Jettas.
"Volkswagen customers want a relationship with their cars," said Kerri Martin, VW's director of brand innovation, in a statement. "Names like The Thing, Beetle, Fox and Rabbit support this."
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