Volkswagen Seeks To Recapture Brand Allure in Times Square With Jetta Launch
Volkswagen of America today took over Times Square in Manhattan and employed singer Katy Perry to introduce the 2011 Jetta, a car that will be built at the company's Puebla Mexico plant and represents a new era for the German company in America.
The new Jetta, showcased in what VW of America CEO Stefan Jacoby called an "urban oasis" in the middle of Times Square, was greeted by a few thousand media, fans and tourists who were in the neighborhood.
The Volkswagen Jetta certainly does not qualify as premium or luxury in the traditional sense. After all, the new Jettas pricing starts at $16,000, even less than the starting price of the current model in showrooms today. But Volkswagen is a brand that represents what many marketing analysts call well positioned to take advantage of a trend that finds consumers who have previously bought luxury goods and brands trading down in price to brands that still have cachet.
"I am actually very enthusiastic about Volkswagen's strategy and opportunity if they can get the marketing and advertising image work right," says Los Angles-based marketing consultant Dennis Keene. "For a lot of people who perhaps previously were buying BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C Class and even Lexus ES 350s, well-packaged Volkswagens that still represent solid German engineering is a place people can trade down to in price without sacrificing brand acceptance."
Adds Keene, "In VW's heyday of the 1960s, people who were affluent owned Beetles and Karmann Ghias alongside much more expensive vehicles because of the social currency and relevance the brand carried...they can get back to that if they do things right," says Keene.
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VW is trying to rebuild its presence from that heyday in an effort to become the world's biggest automaker by 2018. VW is a unit of Volkswagen AG, which is also the parent company of luxury brands Audi, Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti.
Once the largest import brand in the United States, Volkswagen has been pushed aside by Japanese and South Korean automakers offering more affordable cars. The New Jetta, which goes on sale this Fall, has a starting price that is $2,000 cheaper than the current model. But buyers can certainly achieve prices North of $20,000 after adding features and or opting for the TDI clean diesel package that is especially popular with affluent buyers.
The 2011 Jetta will be available with four engines, including a 2-liter turbodiesel direct-injection engine, and manual or automatic transmissions.
The car seats five and measures 182.7-inches in length, 3.5 inches more than the current model. VW says the car offers best-in-class rear legroom.