New Volkswagen CEO Matthias Muller Cancels or Postpones Nonessential Cars to Save Money

Golf R400 1 photo
Photo: screenshot from Youtube
Only a day ago, I was wondering what will happen to the Golf R400 in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal. "It hasn't got a diesel engine, so there's surely no reason to cancel it," I told myself. However, the newly appointed CEO of Volkswagen Group, Matthias Muller, told employees that cars that are "not absolutely necessary will be cancelled or postponed."
Speaking to over 20,000 VW employees, Muller tried to be reassuring by saying: "We can and we will overcome this crisis because Volkswagen is a group with a strong foundation. And above all because we have the best automobile team anyone could wish for."

But even he knows that Volkswagen could stand to lose a lot from this scandal. According to Credit Suisse, Dieselgate could cost $87 billion, and even though we don't expect the numbers to go that high, Volkswagen isn't taking chances.

If it's not essential, get rid of it

That's actually what many of VW's critics have been saying for the past several years. In an effort to become the biggest car company in the world, the German conglomerate launched too many models and kept ones that weren't profitable in production. A year ago, Audi announced it would invest €24 billion ($30.3 billion at the time) through 2018 to challenge BMW for supremacy.

They are not alone, as Skoda, Seat and even Ducati have invested into their model expansion. But how do you define necessity and what projects do you keep?

Volkswagen brand: Golf R400, Scirocco, Beetle, Phaeton, Tiguan GTE

I'm going to be sad to see funding for the Golf R400 pulled. With the same engineer that developed the M133 AMG engine at the helm, Volkswagen could theoretically have built the best hot hatch ever. However, such a machine costing €60,000 seems totally pointless for a company that pessimists say will go bankrupt.

Another project that will likely be canceled is the Golf SUV. The new Beetle has never been as popular as the original car and even though a fresh model, based on the MQB platform, was supposed to come out in 2018, it won't happen. The same might happen to the Scirocco successor.

The production-spec version of the Tiguan GTE concept shown in Frankfurt also needs to be delayed. Even though it's an efficient plug-in hybrid that doesn't come with a TDI engine, this low volume car is unprofitable in the short term.

SEAT and Skoda: SUV future uncertain?

The SEAT brand never had ambitious plans to begin with. For example, company officials said they could not justify a hybrid or electric model. The first SUV in this Spanish company's history should still come out in 2016, as it's critical to their expansion.

However, road testing for the new Ibiza and Ibiza SUV has not begun. We can also say goodbye to the FR performance version of the SUV and the Leon Cross Sport concept they showed in Frankfurt. These problems will be mirrored by Czech carmaker Skoda, who is supposed to launch several SUV models in the next two years.

Bentley: the EXP 10 Speed 6 Sportscar

Yeah, this is another car we'll be very sad to see delayed. Bentley had reportedly given the concept a green light for mass production at the beginning of 2015. We're dealing with the Continental GT's smaller brother, featuring a lighter 2-seater body and possibly the same twin-turbo V8 engine as the next Porsche Panamera.

Audi: Fewer e-tron hybrids, A6/A7/A8 delayed

Audi recently presented a concept version of the all-electric SUV that it plans to launch by the end of the decade. Will the Germans still keep their Tesla rival on track? Not likely, considering EVs are huge money pits.

Although the development of the next A1 and Q3 might also be delayed, it's not a big problem when compared to the A6, A7 and A8. All three are being developed together, and the flagship of the range is supposed to have full autonomous driving capabilities. As for the A9 and Q8 projects, they're likely to be scrapped.

Sad story, happy ending

By making his speech in from of the employees, Muller is indirectly reassuring them that keeping jobs is his top priority. After taking a bashing from the media, Volkswagen stocks have fallen sharply, and it's all doom and gloom.

However, this isn't General Motors; it's Volkswagen. The company is going to bounce back with time, just like it did after the war. But their reputation in the United States may have been irreparably damaged.
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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