Volkswagen dealers, coming off a year when their rising sales bucked the broader market, face a transformational 2020. This year, the brand will move away from its sedan-laden lineup toward more crossovers while preparing to retail the first of several electric vehicles based on the MEB architecture, says the chairman of the Volkswagen National Dealer Advisory Council.
John Luciano, general manager of Street Volkswagen in Amarillo, Texas, says the coming five-seat Atlas Cross Sport crossover will add volume in a white space for VW dealers as they prepare to start selling the Tiguan-sized ID4 battery-electric crossover late this year.
"We've moved our business model into [crossovers], and as we continue to do that, the new Atlas Cross Sport coming out should give us some uplift this year," said Luciano, whose dealership sold about 800 new and 1,200 used vehicles in 2019.
Globally, Volkswagen will spend more than $50 billion — roughly the market capitalization of General Motors — over the next several years on scores of new battery-electric vehicles, including three for the U.S. Luciano says dealers have to be prepared.
"I don't think anybody really has the true idea of where or how big [Volkswagen BEV sales are] going to be," the second-year chairman said. Range will be a key to BEV sales, but dealers and automakers must educate consumers on the practicality of EVs as daily drivers, Luciano says.
"It's going to be up to all the manufacturers. We're going to have to educate the public on how this works, that it's not going to leave you stranded on the road and all the other horror stories that you hear — it won't just quit while you're going down the road," Luciano said. "That's what will be the true determination of how big the market's going to be."