Volkswagen to axe 40 models in an effort to recover, refocus

June 20, 2016

As we reported on Friday, Volkswagen is crafting a new game plan dubbed “Together: Strategy 2025” to deal with the fines, repair fees, and sales slump associated with the ongoing Dieselgate scandal. Details of the plan began to leak out over the weekend, and as Volkswagen CEO Matthias Muller had previously suggested, it'll involve 86ing quite a few models--around 40, in fact.

Exactly which of Volkswagen's 340 current models will meet their maker remains to be seen. None have been mentioned in early reports about the strategy document, and Volkswagen staff have avoided making comments.

Muller said last week that Volkswagen would add 30+ electrified vehicles across its portfolio of 12 vehicle brands by the year 2025. Assuming that's accurate, it would stand to reason that the least-efficient, poorest selling gas and diesel cars (and trucks, and motorcycles) would be sent to the chopping block, replaced by battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

Then again, maybe not. Volkswagen's devotion to electric cars seems shaky at best.

Shortly after Dieselgate broke, the company promised to turn its attention to EVs, but the company's faith in its "clean diesel' vehicles is profound--even though it can't figure out how to make diesels comply with U.S. regulations, short of cheating on emissions tests. And of course, we recently learned that Volkswagen was one of the primary backers of a study that argued against new European regulations that favor electric vehicles via a range of incentives.

What is clear, though--at least among many observers--is that the company's massive mainstream VW brand stands to lose the most models from its lineup. Rumors have been circulating for months about the imminent demise of the once-hot Beetle, and quite a few other slow-sellers could see the end of the road, too. Stay tuned.

Note: for purposes of clarity, "Volkswagen" has been used to refer to the Volkswagen Group parent company, while "VW" has been used to refer to the company's popular mass-market brand of automobiles.

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