Chrysler to build Volkswagens
It’s a link-up that’s been rumored before, but it is now official. The next Volkswagen minivan will actually be a Chrysler, built by Chrysler next to the Town & Country. Reportedly, however, it will be styled in an idiom that marks it as a Volkswagen.
The move is interesting in a number of ways. First, of course, implicit in the deal is the recognition that Chrysler’s command of the minivan market makes it exceptionally difficult to compete against them. Second, it suggests that Volkswagen sees the minivan market as an important one in which to have a presence. This contrasts with the other automakers, except Chrysler, who have abandoned the minivan market entirely (GM, Ford) or have simply left old entries in the market stagnate (Toyota, Honda).
While the move is good news for Chrysler, it cannot be welcome news for Honda. For those buyers who insist on a foreign nameplate, Honda has been the only real choice on the market, as the Toyota van is a very poor competitor to the Odyssey. A Volkswagen branded competitor that carries with it the features of the new generation Chrysler minivans will give these buyers another choice, one that is likely to be much more attractive than the Honda.
The move also suggests that Volkswagen is comfortable with the quality expected of the Chrysler product. Despite that company’s rather poor reputation for reliability, VW is apparently willing to put its reputation on the line for a vehicle designed and built in the United States.
The new VW van is to be introduced in February at the Chicago Auto Show held at McCormick place on the shore of Lake Michigan.