South Africa is a breeding ground for three types of vehicles - bakkies, compact SUVs and small city cars.
The likes of Toyota and Volkswagen hold all the aces in those respective segments, but when it comes to sedan offerings, the German brand is out in the cold.
Only the Polo left
Following the discontinuations of the Arteon, Passat, and Jetta models in relatively quick succession, Volkswagen only has the Polo as its sole sedan option.
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The Polo hatchback is a massive hit locally but not so much its sedan derivative which is mostly used as local government fleet cars or Uber transportation.
The Arteon was meant to be the German brand's premium luxury offering and the product of a love affair between the outgoing Jetta and Passat models. That was not to be, and VW called it quits on the Arteon after a mere two years on the local production line.
Each of Volkswagen's moves generally proves to be masterstrokes as seen with the many Golf variants as well as the T-Cross SUV, but when it comes to sedans, people have other ideas.
The reason the Arteon failed can simply be attributed to there being better options on the market like the Audi A3, and BMW 3 Series.
OPINION | Volkswagen should never have discontinued the Passat and replaced it with the Arteon
The Polo sedan is and has never been anywhere near a luxury option for the masses, merely serving as the hatch with more boot space. Just like a substitute in a soccer match that never got game time because of the first team performers, it now finds itself in unknown territory as the 'star of the show' and doesn't know what to do to score.
A tried and tested recipe
The failure of the Arteon and the discontinuation of the Passat and Jetta is a sign that VW has a chink in the almost impenetrable armour where sedans are concerned.
It becomes a case of 'you can't win every time' as VW has a model representing each segment in the market. The Polo hatch range is a clear winner, so is the T-Cross, Golf, and Tiguan.
Few will complain about the Arteon's ceased production although many people might groan about the age-old Jetta and Passat that are no longer in existence - myself included.
Volkswagen can afford not to have a sedan because all their other models do well each month. This absence also gives other brand's a chance to vie for a bigger piece of the pie in that segment.
In all fairness, the South African market is transitioning to electric vehicles, and SUVs and bakkies reign supreme, along with smaller hatchbacks. The need for sedans are slowly diminishing because the market and consumer needs have changed.
Debunking three popular models might seem like a body-blow now but it could well prove to become beneficial in the future.
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