In an interview with the New York Times, Volkswagen's head designer, Klaus Bischoff, has indicated that Volkswagen plans to create vehicles targeted squarely at American preferences and tastes in the near future. More importantly, he believes that doing so will benefit VW's bottom line: "Designing cars specifically for the American market will pay off for Volkswagen."
Bischoff admits that none of the VW models currently on sale in the U.S. really speak to American consumers on their own terms, but he has high hopes for a new car that's working its way down the pipeline: a midsize vehicle that will be produced at Volkswagen's soon-to-be-completed factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The car in question -- yet to be named or even described, but likely a sedan -- should start rolling off the assembly line in 2011.
According to Bischoff, American consumers look for "attractiveness, quality and sustainability". He thinks that the Volkswagen Golf R -- which is coming to America -- will meet each of those criteria, even though it wasn't made specifically for American consumers. Those of us who've seen its sibling, the Sirocco R, tend to agree.
We also agree with Bischoff that European and American consumers want significantly different things from their automobiles. Our only question would be: will designing specifically for American consumers really generate profit, and if so, will that profit come at the expense of Volkswagen's designs for the European market? We suppose we'll have to wait until 2011 to find out.