Is this the end of the icon?

And in the end, golf wins. Once again, the German Accord was the best-selling car in Europe. But in an unprecedented situation. While she’s often quite ahead, this time around, she’s a narrow champion.

According to Jato’s data, 205,408 copies were delivered to 28 countries of the Old Continent. Thus, the Golf closely follows the Peugeot 208 (sales 196,869), Dacia Sandero (196,792 sales) and Renault Clio (sales 196,243)! Golf has topped the monthly budgets quite a few times, having to share the top spot month after month with the Yaris, 208, Sandero and even a Tesla Model 3.

  • Top 5 Best Sellers in Europe – 2021 (Evolution vs. 2019)
1 Volkswagen Golf 205408 – 50.0%
2 Peugeot 208 196,869 – 12.4%
3 Dacia Sandero 196792 – 12.4%
4 Renault Clio 196243 – 38.5%
5 Peugeot 2008 194653 + 16.5%

The reign of golf this time seems to be contested in Europe. Is this the end of its supremacy, the beginning of the decline of an icon we thought was unbeatable, like the Ford F-150 in the North American market? It must be said right away: the result of golf must be analyzed in a very special context. While 2020 was a black year, with full months of confinement, sales have yet to resume in Europe. 11.75 million vehicles were sold, down 1.3% compared to 2020 and 26% compared to 2019!

Germany has significantly affected the result, still down 10% between 2020 and 2021. However, it is the largest market on the Old Continent…and the main outlet for golf. In his home country, golf has hit rock bottom. Only 91,216 copies were delivered. In 2019, it was 173,667!

The shortage of semiconductors hurts sales

Between these two years there was the coronation of the eighth generation. The launch came at the worst possible time, since the official access to the franchises, the beginning of March 2020 … when the epidemic broke out in Europe! It is enough to destroy the launch campaign.

Added to this is the very complex beginnings due to technical problems. For the eighth generation, Volkswagen put the package on technology, in order to recast the Golf as standard in this segment. But the car suffered major electronic malfunctions, with so many bugs… that deliveries were paused in May 2020 to correct the biggest and recall campaigns were launched later.

This leads to an even more important aspect that will explain the sales results further: the electronic components crisis. When asked, Volkswagen explained to us: “In 2021, golf was one of our products most affected by the semiconductor crisis”. The car is packed with steering assistance and touch screens, most of which are standard from the entry level. While the entire auto industry lacks these elements, most high-tech public contracts come under heavy penalties.

Blame it on T-Roc!

In 2021, fewer than 20,000 units separated the Golf and T-Roc in Europe.

However, in general, golf appears to have begun its inevitable decline. If the Seat Leon’s cousin, technically nearly identical while being less expensive, isn’t a hindrance (82,574 sales in 2021), the Golf is swayed by SUV fashion! Volkswagen clearly tells us: “The compact sedan class is facing competition from compact SUVs, whose width is only expanding. The Golf is no exception to the rule at this point and therefore is seeing reduced penetration in line with its class.”

Thus, at the Volkswagen dealership, the customer finds about the Golf Tiguan, the T-Roc and, to a lesser extent, the T-Cross (but the SUV customer willingly agrees to go down a class to replace his car). T-Roc is clearly the most annoying. 186,644 sold last year in Europe! In France, it is also better than charter. 18,145 T-Rocs were delivered to us last year, compared to 13,870 Golfs. Semiconductor reason? Not really, since already in 2019, the T-Roc has passed golf (20,331 vs. 20139).

When it was released in 2017, we could also see T-Roc as a new golf game. But on the Volkswagen side, the 21st Century Golf would prefer ID.3. And this electrolytic capacitor is another form of competition for the classic capacitor! Even if the ID.3 had a lower quality start than expected, Volkswagen delivered 76,000 copies in 2021. After the brand decided to separate the electric model from the rest of the Golf family (while in the US, Ford made an electric F-150 ), it’s a large number of sales that no longer benefit from the golf score.

The ninth could already be the last

The trend of SUVs and especially the shift to electric, the golden age of golf is already well past. It seems that Volkswagen itself is taking over this position. We remember an amazing photo showing the concept of the first ID, the last next to the first golf and the beetle, a clear symbol of saying that ID.3 should be the golf of the future.

From the introduction of the first identity concept in 2016, Volkswagen seemed to represent the expected end of the Golf!
From the introduction of the first identity concept in 2016, Volkswagen seemed to represent the expected end of the Golf!

Moreover, in 2020, the English magazine AutoExpress asked Jurgen Stackmann, director of sales and marketing at VW, whether the Golf has a future along with IDs, while Europe plans to ban sales of thermal vehicles in 2035. The answer was clear: “mostly not”.

However, he noted, the Golf 9 was very likely, and there was still potential for markets outside of Europe. The average life cycle of a Golf is 6/7 years, which is up to 2026 for a Golf 9. Volkswagen wants to exit thermal power in Europe around 2033, leaving another six years of margin. So wouldn’t the identifiers take the historical and common names of Volkswagen? It would be strange to let go of it.

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