- The suggestion was startling: Maybe VW should give up on selling cars to America’s masses.
It was late January, at the Detroit auto show, and Herbert Diess, the global chief of Volkswagen AG’s namesake brand, was sounding out U.S. dealers as the company grappled with the biggest crisis in its modern history. Perhaps, Diess wondered aloud, VW should stop trying to compete with the likes of Toyota Motor Corp. in America and go back to focusing on higher-end models.
“It was near crickets in the room,” said Alan Brown, chairman of VW’s U.S. dealer council.
After stunned silence came anger, Brown said. He and 11 other dealers are heading to company headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, next week to tell executives they fervently oppose throwing in the towel on the mass market. They want the company to stick to the commitments it has made for new models and keep U.S. prices where they are now.
. . .
“Volkswagen dealers don’t want to sue,” Brown said. “But if you take away our future, on top of you plugged us with a bad name with this EPA scandal, it’s a double cut. We have no choice. We have to take action.”