Sales of the new Golf are in no way below par

I would like to counter some of the points made in John Stones’ article on mass-market car makers (MW February 19). The Golf Mk V was launched in the UK on January 30 to enormous critical acclaim from motoring experts, culminating in What Car? magazine’s Car of the Year 2004 award. Orders at Volkswagen retailers are running at 20 per cent above target, practically all launch stock has been sold and we expect this year to be one of the Golf’s best ever in the UK.

The UK sales figures stated in the article for 2002 and 2003 are correct – 72,362 and 67,226 respectively. It was not mentioned, however, that these are the Golf’s two best years to date in this country, and that 2003 was the Mk IV’s final full year of sales – traditionally the slowest time in a vehicle’s model cycle. To put this into further context, in 1997 Volkswagen UK sold 39,986 Golfs, and in 1998 42,354. The general pattern is that the Golf continues to grow in popularity in the UK.

This year, we expect Golf sales of about 65,000 units, as mentioned. However, new variants are still to be launched throughout 2004, including, at the end of the year, the GTI. This model has traditionally accounted for a significant proportion of UK sales, and its late launch explains the lower 2004 figure compared with the past two years.

Against this backdrop, the comments from Garel Rhys concerning Volkswagen UK’s Golf launch advertising campaign are misleading. His suggestion the UK advertising partly accounts for poor sales is simply untrue.

Research shows that Golf customers like the car’s evolutionary approach. It means that new models are instantly recognisable as a Golf, and carry all the heritage associated with the name. In addition, his comment that Volkswagen should look at revitalising the appeal of the Golf by developing an MPV to rival the Renault Scenic is also nonsensical, since the Volkswagen Touran – a direct rival to the Scenic – has been on sale since August 2003.

The Golf is, and will continue to be, Volkswagen’s best-selling model, and the latest version has got off to a flying start in the UK.

(All sales figures are courtesy of the SMMT.)

Mike Orford

Manager, product affairs

Volkswagen UK

Milton Keynes

Bucks

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