Report: Volkswagen Delays BlueSport Roadster in Favor of High-Volume Models
Volkswagen's BlueSport mid-engined two-seater has hit a few bumps on its road to production, according to Autocar. Rumor has it that the German automaker can't find the sales to justify producing the car. The biggest obstacle is apparently the U.S. market, as Volkswagen of America's management believes having a sports car in its U.S. lineup is low-priority, despite VW's intent to triple sales in the U.S. to 800,000 units annually, and the fact the U.S. is the world's biggest market for sports cars.
"To get to 800,000 units, we don't need to keep adding to our portfolio of models," Volkswagen of America boss Jonathan Browning said to Autocar. "We're concentrating on our core models."
Though Browning doesn't have final say, he does have influence within VW, especially considering the company's aggressive market growth goals for North America. And without his (and the U.S. market's) blessing, the BlueSport likely won't get anywhere near the roughly 50,000 projected global sales per year it requires to get off the ground.
VW engineering boss Uli Hackenberg says the engineering for the BlueSport is already completed, and that the next step is to make the business case for the niche model. Speaking to Autocar, Hackenberg said, "There is no official release for the project. It's not a technology problem, but of finding enough customers. I don't have enough [sales] volume to get the go-ahead."
These delays threaten the BlueSport's chances of becoming a production reality. As the car was first shown off at the 2009 Detroit auto show three years ago, its styling grows more dated the longer VW waits. This fact makes the Blue Sport's shot at getting the green light even less likely.
As we previously reported, the Blue Sport's underpinnings were also planned for use in sister models from Audi and Porsche. As such, the BlueSport's delay will affect those cars' chances as well. Audi wants a compact mid-engined sports car to slot beneath its R8 halo car, which would likely be called the R4, if produced. Meanwhile, Porsche has been tossing around the idea of a successor to the four-cylinder 550 Spyder, but is reportedly concerned that an entry-level sports car would eat into sales of its existing mid-engined roadster, the Boxster.
The BlueSport itself would make use of lightweight components like an aluminum chassis and folding cloth roof. Though the BlueSport concept debuted with a 2.0-liter diesel I-4 making 180 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, a production version was expected to get a turbocharged 170-hp 2.0-liter gasoline I-4 for a base engine, with a twin-charged 200-hp 1.4-liter arriving shortly after. The car would also employ start-stop tech and regenerative braking to keep with its fuel-efficient, eco-conscious image.
With VW hellbent for the title of world's largest automaker, a low-volume sports car like the BlueSport might not fit into the company's plans anymore. What do you think VW should do? Should it continue to develop cash cow models like the Jetta and Passat? Or continue development on niche models, and bring the BlueSport to market?