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VW promises Phaeton for all

Added length: The LWB Phaeton liberates an extra 120mm in the rear seat compared to the standard Phaeton.

VW's luxury Phaeton saloon is on its way to all Aussie VW dealers in 2005

11 May 2004

BAD overseas experiences have warned VolkswagenGroup Australia away from selling thePhaeton luxury car through selected dealers here.

That’s despite VGA anticipating extremelylimited sales for VW’s first foray into the luxurysaloon market.

VGA managing director Peter Nochar has forecastonly 30 sales per annum for Phaeton.

Just one specification of the Phaeton will be soldin Australia – the long-wheelbase 4.2-litre V8, withpricing pitched around $200,000.

The LWB Phaeton liberates an extra 120mm inthe rear seat compared to the SWB car, growing thewheelbase to a full 3000mm.

The V8 engine produces246kW and 430Nm. The car employs VW’s4Motion all-wheel drive system.

As just launched in the UK as a four or five-seater, the LWB Phaeton adds a rear console for operation of the 4Zone electronic climate control system, rear side window sunblinds and an electrically-operated sunroof and rear screen sunblind.

This comes on top of a spec list which already includes Continuous Damping Control air suspension, Electronic Stabilisation Program, an ‘infotainment’ system with seven-inch colour screen and Xenon headlights.

Phateon will be previewed at the Sydney motor show inOctober and the launch will be around the time ofthe next Melbourne motor show in March 2005.

That timing is years after the Phaeton’s Europeanlaunch in the first quarter of 2002, although theLWB version did not go on sale until late 2003 in left-hand drive markets.

The delay in local sales of the Phaeton has beenput down to the wait for the LWB as well as localrenovation of the dealer network, which should belargely complete by the end of 2004.

Mr Nochar promised all dealers would get anopportunity to sell the Phaeton.

"They tried that (selected dealers) in some of theother markets and it didn’t work," he said.

"The reason it didn’t work is if dealer A has thefranchise that’s fine, but dealer B might have thecustomer and it doesn’t matter how much introductorycommission there is, he’s not going tointroduce his best and most high profile customerto the opposition.

"So what the other dealer then does is say aboutthe car ‘we haven’t got it because we don’t believein it’, or ‘we don’t like it, they are a lot of troubleand if I were you I’d buy a Mercedes-Benz orsomething’.

"He’d rather do that and keep the customer out ofthe hands of the competition because he can’t sell ithimself and he’s had a loss of face."But while Mr Nochar says all dealers will sellPhaeton, the amount of unique tooling and training– and therefore expense – required by the carwould make it unlikely all dealers would developthe capacity to service it.

Mr Nochar promised service would be part of afive-star support program for Phaeton customers.

"The 30 people that buy them, we will give anabsolutely special experience with the cars with theway they are serviced," he said.

"For example, the car would be picked up fromsomebody’s home on a flat bed track, and on the flatbed truck would be another Phaeton that they coulduse while their car was being serviced."Although it shares much technology with theAudi A8 and sells at a cheaper price in manymarkets, the Phaeton has not been a sales success,a fact tacitly acknowledged by Mr Nochar when hedescribed it as the "best selling luxury car in LowerSaxony".

VW’s headquarters are in Wolfsburg, a city in theGerman state of Lower Saxony.

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