WOLFSBURG, Germany Volkswagen headquarters has told Inside Line that the all-new sixth-generation GTI and Rabbit will go on sale in the U.S. by early September 2009. The new models start production for North America in late June. European buyers started taking delivery of the new Golf/Rabbit last month and will get the GTI next summer.
Of the roughly 42,000 Rabbits and GTIs sold in the U.S. during 2007, some 15,000 or more than a third were GTIs. That explains a quick schedule to get the new GTI to the U.S. after deliveries start in Germany next June. "In fact," a contact in Wolfsburg told IL, "in our desire to sell one million cars in the U.S. by 2018, there's no reason to doubt that over 100,000 of those need to be Rabbits and GTIs."
VW is also hinting at a very reasonable North American price increase for the new model compared with the current one a decision in line with the pricing approach in the home market that adds the equivalent of only $250 to the base price of each model.
All North American GTIs will come with standard adaptive cruise control (ACC), adaptive chassis control (DCC) and 19-inch wheels. Base Rabbit engines will keep the current 2.5-liter in-line five cylinder. The GTI will get a 2.0-liter TFSI, and joining these will be the new 2.0-liter TDI. Word has it also that the 1.8-liter TFSI may come in to replace the old five-cylinder.
On the heels of the general North American market launch will be the arrival of a Rabbit 4Motion, the next incarnation of the R32, a TwinDrive hybrid version and a Rabbit running LPG natural gas.
As for full electric Rabbits, VW is known to be working on lithium-ion battery development with Mόnster University in Germany. "A truly desirable package that still leaves room for cargo and people, charges quickly and provides realistic range is perhaps seven or eight years off."
Inside Line says: With the Great Downturn in the world economy led by the U.S. disaster VW is getting its small wondercar to us more rapidly than it did with the last generation. Matt Davis, Correspondent