We'd heard months ago that Volkswagen was halting production of the Routan, and now the coup de grace: VW is axing the slow-selling minivan this year after five years of disappointing sales.
It's been a long five years for the Routan, a rebadged and slightly different Chrysler Town and Country/Dodge Grand Caravan. While Volkswagen bosses originally hoped to capture a five percent market share -- equal to about 29,000 units in 2012 -- the German-Canadian-American minivan missed the mark by a big margin. How big? Total U.S. minivan sales last year were 597,118 units, but Routan sales came in at 10,483 units. For comparison, sales of the mechanically identical Dodge Grand Caravan amounted to twelve times that figure. Volkswagen only sold 57,650 vans since the Routan’s inception in 2008. The best year on record was 2010, when VW moved 15,961 Routans off U.S. dealer lots.
To be frank, the decision to euthanize the Routan was a long time coming. Although you can still find and buy new Routans from VW dealers, Volkswagen – or Chrysler, rather – hasn’t built a Routan in ages. We reported in December of 2012 that Chrysler’s assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario, hadn’t built a brand new Routan since August of 2012. Volkswagen officials claimed the lull in production was a “temporary” halt to account for a glut of 2012 Routans sitting on dealer lots, and that VW still planned on building and offering a 2013 Routan.
Volkswagen officials are now singing a little different tune. VW Group of America boss Jonathan Browning told Automotive News that the Routan "will be phased out this year," and many of the remaining units will be used internally within VW's corporate fleet. If you're wondering what the Routan's replacement will look like, look no further than the BlueSport concept from this year's Detroit Auto Show, which foretells a three-row crossover with more space and a lower purchase price than the current five-seat Touareg.