After much indecision, Volkswagen has elected to replace the Phaeton, a senior marketer tells Motor Trend. But that’s still about three years away.
“There will be a show car first, then we will build it,” our source says, “The car will be their legacy.” Who’s legacy? Namely Martin Winterkorn, VW Group CEO, who has had his contract extended to 2016, and Ulrich Hackenberg, VW product development chief, who will be 65 in 2015. Both are expected to retire sometime just before or after the launch of the new car (the present-generation Phaeton is pictured).
Our source admits VW didn’t intend to replace the Phaeton, but the burgeoning car market may be its savior. “The new one will have the same positioning: a straightforward sedan for the person who’s successful but doesn’t feel the need to show it. Volkswagen doesn’t change course between generations of a car. It’s always easier to keep the customers you have than to lose them and go find new ones.”
VW figures a new Phaeton would attract customers for whom the Jaguar XJ is too avant-garde, including American luxury consumers. If the next Phaeton looks conservative — the design isn’t finalized — it will be obsessively engineered and packed with technology. To save fuel and get the best from smaller powertrains, it will be lighter, with extensive use of aluminum and magnesium. Engines will be downsized (goodbye, W-12) and use forced induction and cylinder deactivation, as well as hybrids including a plug-in. Most of all, it will be built to extremely high standards that will take precedence over saving weight or reducing cost.