Volkswagen is set to launch its electric vehicle (EV) offensive on the global market in 2020 as it shifts its product strategy into a new gear.
Here, AM interviews Dale Piper, product manager at Volkswagen UK, about a more conventional, but equally important new addition to the VW range - the all-new Golf 8 hatchback.
Given the growth of the SUV segments, with cars like the T-Cross and T-Roc and the upcoming launch of the ID 3, how important is Golf 8 to the brand and what are the sales expectations for the new model versus its predecessor?
We expect the new Golf to follow the same pattern of success as the seventh generation. Of course, some customers may opt for an SUV in line with the industry trend, but the Golf has succeeded for 45 years so far in the face of many newcomers and alternatives, so it has a great track-record of having perennial appeal. Thanks to its range of advanced engines – including mild hybrids and plug-in hybrids – Golf could also be a stepping stone to the ID 3 for some customers who are not quite ready to go fully-electric, and, in addition, it remains the benchmark in its hatchback segment. This is why we are optimistic that it will maintain its position as the best-seller in its class.
When can dealers expect the full model range of Golf 8 to be available for ordering, and why is there a delay on some versions being available?
The top-selling Golf trims are already on sale, and will satisfy the greatest number of customers with their universal appeal and expected Volkswagen quality. It has always been the way that the many variants of the Golf range are launched gradually as opposed to in one go. For example, the performance-oriented GTI, GTD, GTE and R – which are especially popular in the UK market – will follow later this year.
Which engine/trim do you expect to be the most popular when the full line-up is available, and will that differ for fleet/retail customers?
We expect retail customers to favour the Golf Life 1.5 TSI 130 PS six-speed manual in particular, and fleet customers the Golf Life 2.0 TDI 115 PS six-speed manual.
What new technology features are available on the car and how will you ensure dealers are capable of explaining and upselling them to buyers?
We have just completed the UK’s ‘Brand Experience’, in which our sales executives were taken to Wolfsburg – the home of the Golf – to experience the Golf 8’s new technologies, including WeConnect, the Innovision Cockpit and more. Through this first-hand, hands-on experience, we could help them to demonstrate to customers just how comprehensively the new Golf meets the needs of today’s driver.
What features can be added to the car post-sale via download and what is expectation for uptake of that service?
UK customers are in a good position, as most of the equipment offered via download in some other markets is standard-fit for the UK, including Voice Activation, Adaptive Cruise Control and Satellite Navigation. However, demand is expected to grow over time as specifications evolve and new features are introduced and offered via download.