VW tries to bounce back from scandal with fresh lineup

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VW tries to bounce back from scandal with fresh lineup

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Volkswagen’s new vehicles for the Korean market this year are displayed at a launch event at the Dongdaeum Design Plaza in Dongdaemun, central Seoul, on Wednesday. [YONHAP]

Volkswagen Korea is back in the game with five new models this year and more to come. It wants to regain the trust of customers, its brand image and most of all sales: It wasn’t able to sell a single car in the local market last year.

The Korean unit of the German carmaker said Wednesday that it will introduce a new Passat, the Passat GT, the Tiguan, the Tiguan Allspace and the brand new Arteon to the Korean market, pledging to focus on sedans and SUVs, which are popular with Korean car buyers.

Volkswagen Korea’s sales were suspended in 2016 after the emission rigging scandal. They officially resumed with the launch of the Passat GT last month.

It will launch the new Passat - the version sold in the U.S. - to gain an upper hand in the highly competitive midsize sedan market in Korea.

“No other export market for Volkswagen offers two Passat models at the same time,” said Stefan Krapp, the CEO of Volkswagen Korea at a press conference in central Seoul on Wednesday.

“It is an exception we made just for Korea,” he added.

The Passat GT is a premium version of the flagship sedan, which has put more emphasis on state-of-the-art car technology. In contrast, the new Passat offers value for the money for families. The new Passat will launch in the latter half of the year with a 2.0 TSI petrol engine.

The company will start accepting orders for the second generation of the midsize SUV Tiguan today. Manufactured on Volkswagen’s new MQB platform, the new Tiguan is larger and more high-tech than its predecessor.

It offers a so-called active bonnet that minimizes damage to a pedestrian in case of a collision. All trims come equipped with driver assistance features such as adaptive cruise control, pedestrian monitoring and lane assist. While those features should raise the sticker price by approximately 3 million won ($2,800), Krapp said Volkswagen Korea decided to maintain the price, starting at 38 million won.

The Tiguan Allspace is a larger version of the Tiguan. Its wheelbase is 110 millimeters (4.3 inches) longer and the legroom is increased by 60 millimeters compared to the Tiguan. The Tiguan Allspace will launch in the latter half of the year.

The Arteon sedan is a new kid on the block. The sporty-looking four-door sedan, unveiled to the world last year, will come to Korea in the autumn. As a successor to the discontinued CC model, Arteon is a premium sedan that embodies Volkswagen’s design initiative, according to the company.

Indicating the emissions scandal was the “darkest time in company history,” Krapp said he wants to make the brand desirable again in Korea.

The auto company will continue to bring in competitive models in 2019 including the hatchback Golf.


BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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