VW drops production on the W8 Passat
Volkswagen's Passat W8 model is discontinued due to slow sales
JENS MEINERS | Automotive News Europe
MUNICH, Germany -- The W-8 engine configuration may be dead.
Volkswagen AG has stopped producing the Passat W8 model because of slow sales, says CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder. It was the only vehicle to use the compact W8 engine, which was championed by former VW CEO Ferdinand Piech.
U.S. sales of the Passat W8 fell far below VW's goal of 5,000 units annually. The company sold 2,182 W8s in 2003 and 268 through the first eight months of this year. The W8's 2004 base price is $40,735, including a $575 destination charge.
Unless Volkswagen decides to revive the controversial engine as an option in the next-generation Passat due next year, the Volkswagen group will have no model that uses the W8 engine. The VW Phaeton and Touareg and the Audi A8 offer 12-cylinder W-configured engines as an option.
The Veyron, made by VW-owned Bugatti Automobili S.p.A., is supposed to use a 1,000-hp 16-cylinder version of the W-configured engine, but production of the Veyron has been delayed until fall 2005.
VW introduced the 4.0-liter, 275-hp version of the Passat three years ago. The Passat W8 was intended to bridge the gap between V-6 versions of the Passat and the Phaeton luxury sedan. But since 2001 only 11,000 units of the W8 have been built.
Production of other Passat models with engines ranging from 1.6- to 2.8-liter engines will continue until mid-2005, when a new-generation Passat is due.
The W-8 engine was designed to be short enough to fit in the Passat. It has four banks of two cylinders each - essentially two narrow-angle V-4 engines bolted together - that form a "W" shape. By contrast, a V-8 engine has two banks of four cylinders.
VW's W-configured engines belong to an engine family introduced with the Golf VR6 in 1991.
The 275-hp W8 engine is lightweight and compact but mechanically complex. It has shortcomings, including difficult thermal management, high fuel consumption and meager torque.
VW had high hopes for the W8 engine, but it has been disappointed. Audi turned it down for the S4, choosing a turbocharged V6 instead.
The W-8 was intended to go into Volkswagen's Touareg SUV and Phaeton luxury car, but both cars got Audi's more conventional and higher torque 4.2-liter V8 instead.
VW executives dropped plans to use the W8 in the Skoda Superb and canceled plans for a W-8 Golf R40 because the 250-hp V-6 Golf R32 has just 25 fewer hp.
Volkswagen denies the Passat W8 was a flop. A spokesman said it played an important role in positioning the Passat as a premium model in its segment.
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