About a year and a half ago, the green-car set wrung its hands and tore at its hair because yet another great, awesome and altogether amazing vehicle would not be coming to the U.S. This car, a Volkswagen Polo, was small, efficient, simple and, in one test, got 70 miles per gallon. It was particularly frustrating because rumors of the car coming here had been rampant since 2005.
As recently as August, VW folks were cold on the likelihood of the car coming, pointing to unfavorable exchange rates as a barrier to entry.
Today, all that has changed, as the people’s carmaker has told Automotive News that it will indeed bring the Polo stateside. This is a big win for VW fans and for fuel-economy freaks because the Polo, a tiny little hood ornament of a subcompact, is a true gas-sipper.
VW hasn’t confirmed when it would bring the vehicle, but it did indicate it would build the Polo at the company’s plant in Puebla, Mexico, where the original Beetle was made until a few years ago. That, presumably, will help it with the exchange-rate problems.
The Wolfsburg, Germany, company is concerned about its relatively small footprint in the U.S. and hopes to triple its annual sales here. Among other plans, the company is preparing to build a mid-size car plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that will come online in 2011.
The decision to bring the Polo will give VW an entrant in the suddenly hot small-car market. Currently, VW’s smallest car in the U.S. is the Rabbit (known elsewhere as the Golf), which starts at $16,300.
In the U.K., by contrast, the Rabbit is only the third-smallest offering. Beneath the Polo there is the Fox, a truly bitty little car. And the product range is far-wider there, with 13 different models and many variations (including station wagon options); in the U.S., there are nine.
Pricing info on the U.S. Polo has not been released. But if relative pricing in the U.K. is any guide, look for it to run about half the price of a Passat, which starts at 15,752 pounds sterling, compared with 7,725 pounds for the Polo. In the U.S., the Passat’s base price is $28,300.
Whether VW will bring in its most efficient version of the Polo, which runs on a BlueMotion diesel engine, remains to be seen. VW began bringing Jetta turbodiesels to the U.S. this past summer.