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Volkswagen launches Phideon luxury sedan for China only


Volkswagen (VW) launched a top-end sedan in China last Friday that will compete directly with sister brand Audi and is aimed at buyers looking for luxurious yet less-flashy cars amid a nationwide crackdown on conspicuous consumption.

Volkswagen hopes the Phideon, a luxury-style sedan from a brand that has a mass-market image unlike automakers such as BMW or Mercedes-Benz, will help it cash in on buyers’ sentiments and drive sales in China — the world’s top auto market.

The Audi A6 has a flashier price tag than Phideon but could cost the same after dealership discounts, auto experts say.

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VW, which is still associated with its low-end Santana sedans that have dominated the Shanghai taxi market for decades, will not offer discounts or push sales volume targets on the Phideon model to keep the focus on quality, Santel said.

The Phideon

Phideon is the second flagship sedan experiment for VW after the Phaeton, a global model in the same class as the Audi A8, that was discontinued earlier this year after it failed to meet sales targets in its roughly 13 years of existence.

The smaller Phideon differs in that it is being launched as a China-only model, but a VW spokesman said the firm does not rule out exporting to other regions in the future.

Ford’s launch of Taurus as a flagship sedan for China last November was a success, with its sales outstripping that of its entire Lincoln luxury brand in the first half of 2016, according to data from consultancy JATO Dynamics.

But the Phideon’s 359,000 yuan (US$53,273.58) starting price is roughly 100,000 yuan more than the Taurus and according to Zhang there is a risk the VW sedan could find a similar reception as the expensive Phaeton.

Zhang predicts sales of 1,000-2,000 Phideons annually.