The shock of Covid on the European new car market was so strong that even the bigwigs considered untouchable went into suffering. I speak more precisely of the Volkswagen Golf, the car that has driven car sales on our continent for the past 30 years. But not everything is eternal. And, apparently, it seems the turn has come for Golf to leave the throne.
According to data released in 26 European countries * and relating to the first four months of the year, the successful compact of the Wolfsburg company was replaced by the Peugeot 208. The French car recorded 79,347 units between January and April, against 75,149 units. of Golf. Although it seems small, the most relevant element is that the German car has lost ground quite noticeably compared to the same period in previous years.
Despite the arrival of a new generation at the end of 2019, the Golf, in its hatchback and wagon versions, recorded an 8% decline in registrations compared to January-April 2020, when the market as a whole suffered the most massive impact of the pandemic.
Worse still is the comparison with the years prior to Covid. The volume of sales recorded by the Volkswagen Golf decreased by 50% compared to January-April 2019 and by 54% compared to the same period in 2018.
Or, to put it differently, the Golf’s market share in the first four months of 2018 was 3.08%. This year it dropped to 1.84%.
There are several factors that explain the fall in popularity of the Volkswagen Golf. The most important is the growing competition within the group of the same brand. Never before has the Volkswagen star had to suffer as much friendly fire as is happening now. Given the SUV boom, the brand has jumped on that train, launching no less than 5 models in Europe, including three that attack the Golf directly or indirectly.
A Volkswagen T-Roc, based on the same platform, costs on average 11% less than a Golf, and is an SUV. A T-Cross, which actually plays within the B segment and is based on the Polo, can also attack entry-level versions of the Golf. And higher up are the Tiguan, 18% more expensive on average, and the new ID.3.
In other words, the Golf has to face the attack of 4 models of the same brand, which moreover have the market demand in their favor.
Furthermore, there is the fact that the eighth generation has broken with the conservative style that has always characterized the Golf. From a design point of view, the Golf 8 has received quite a few criticisms for its front and interior.
In fact, since the new generation hit the market in November 2019, the Golf has been leading the sales rankings for 12 of the 18 months that have passed since then. When the Golf 7 was launched at the end of 2012, it led the market continuously from October of that year until February 2017 (53 months).
The ID.3-Golf dilemma
The Volkswagen ID.3 it could then represent the biggest headache for golf. It is also a compact car (perhaps even more comfortable inside), but it is electric, which is what is moving the market today. The retail price of an ID.3 (before the incentives) is on average 41,095 euros, which is 7,630 euros higher than the average price of a Golf.
If the market is aiming at the standardization of the electric and Volkswagen proposes the ID.3 within the C segment, then what is the meaning of the Golf? In fact, it’s not just a dilemma for these two products. Electrification it also questions other models such as the Porsche Panamera (vs Taycan), the Audi A7 (vs e-tron GT), or even the Clio vs Zoe.
In the end, if we all converted to electric, what would happen to the production lines of cars with internal combustion engines?