This year will arguably be the most important yet for Volkswagen Passenger Cars. Details of specific collaboration plans with Ford will be announced, possibly as soon as next week’s Detroit auto show.

As for the VW brand’s worldwide deliveries, these are holding up, even in the face of a double-digit contraction of the market in China. In Europe, another major market where the brand’s addition of fresh models is cementing its number one status, Volkswagen will nonetheless soon be facing some key challenges: the Golf is nearing the end of its life cycle and the replacement model must have a perfect launch in Q3 just before a major roll-out of electric cars begins at year-end.

Aside from the UK, demand for new vehicles is solid in the majority of European countries. VW’s success is built on the Golf and to lesser extent, the Polo, Tiguan and Passat too. Two of those four models’ segments are in decline. Will the new Golf be able to reinvigorate demand for C segment hatchbacks? And how will the Polo fare when it comes under attack by new generations of the Clio and 208 later in 2019?

More detail on past, current and forthcoming models as well as many other additional Volkswagen vehicles which are not in this feature (including autonomous and electrified ones) can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database which is part of QUBE. There is a link at the end of this feature to the database.

A segment

The second generation up! is now only months away from being revealed, the original having been on sale since the fourth quarter of 2011. The new car should once again be built at the Volkswagen Group’s Bratislava plant as well as in Brazil. Expect an eight-year life cycle with a facelift taking place in 2023. The next generation e-up! is also set for release later this year. This time around, the fully electric city car will be joined by other models from the same family: i.e. EV versions of the next generation SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo.

B segment

The sixth generation Polo was revealed to the media in June 2017, the public debut taking place three months later at the Frankfurt IAA. VW do Brasil also commenced sending cars to its dealers from October 2017, the car having gone into local production at the same time as the made-in-Spain Polo. The VW Virtus is the sedan version of the Polo.

For the moment, the new Polo is manufactured only in Spain, South Africa and Brazil, with assembly in Rwanda, but production in other countries should be added later in 2019. The life cycle should stretch to 2024 with a facelift in 2021.

C segment

Unofficial images published on the internet late last year show what looked to be pre-production examples of the Mark VIII Golf on test. Unsurprisingly, the exterior gently, rather than radically, moves-on the look of the current model.

The eighth generation Golf will use an updated version of the MQB architecture. The car should have its public premiere at the Geneva motor show and be on sale from the third quarter of the year. VW confirmed in January 2018 that production at Wolfsburg would commence in 75 weeks’ time.

In November 2017, the Volkswagen Group announced that its Zwickau-Mosel plant will not be building any future models other than electric ones, so Golf production in Germany will be based at Wolfsburg.

The new Golf will be a close relative of the latest Jetta. This sedan, which sells well in North America, went on sale first in Mexico during the first quarter of 2018, followed by the US and Canada during the second quarter, where it was new for the 2019 model year. Puebla began building it in January 2018, shortly after its world debut was at that year’s Detroit auto show. The Mexican plant also exports the car to Brazil. The former Jetta SportWagen was replaced by the Golf SportWagen in the USA.

A modified version of the Jetta, the Sagitar, will be built and sold in China by the FAW Volkswagen joint venture from later in 2019. Volkswagen told the media at the 2018 Detroit motor show that it has no plans to sell the Jetta in Europe: the old car was not a success in the region. The Jetta should be built for seven years so a facelifted model should arrive for North America’s 2022 model year.

The latest generation of FAW Volkswagen’s Bora became available in China in June 2018. It uses the same architecture and shares much with SAIC Volkswagen’s Lavida. Both of these cars are C segment/Compact sedans. A crossover wagon variant to replaced the Bora C-Trek is also expected.

Finally, another of Volkswagen’s main C segment models and its best performer in the world’s largest market. The Lavida Plus is a special model just for China. Built by SAIC Volkswagen, it is 4,670mm long so is more of a C/D size than a traditional ‘Compact’. Replacements for the Gran Lavida (a wagon) and the Cross Lavida (a version of the wagon with raised suspension) should follow later in 2019.

Announced as the ‘Lavida Plus’ but with a boot badge which says only Lavida, this car was a world debut at AutoChina, the bienniel Beijing motor show in April 2018. Even though it looks at first glance to be near identical to the Jetta, every panel is different. The major stampings – roof, door openings – are the same though.

SAIC Volkswagen will likely facelift the Lavida in the final quarter of 2021 and replace the car in mid-2025.

D segment

There are now three cars called Passat, each one being a different size.

The Passat (B8) for mostly European markets was revealed to the media in July 2014, with its public debut taking place at the Paris Mondiale de l’Automobile three months later. The car, in sedan form, is 4,767mm long. It is due to be facelifted this year. The same applies to the Magotan, which is sold mostly in China. It differs from the Passat by having a long wheelbase body. Its world premiere was at the Beijing motor show in April 2016, going on sale in China three months later.

Unlike the car for Europe, North America’s Passat comes only in sedan form. The oldest and second largest of the three Passats is built in the US and until recently, was also made in China. Even though it dates to 2011, this sedan is about to become the freshest of the world’s Passats due to it being given a major facelift. Volkswagen of America’s 2020 model year Passat will be revealed in the coming days at the North American International Auto Show.

The latest Passat for China, announced in October 2018, uses the MQB architecture and is manufactured by SAIC Volkswagen. The car, pictured above, is 4,933mm long, making it even bigger than the previous model. Making the new sedan so large probably means that FAW Volkswagen will be given a version of Europe’s next Passat sized to fit below Shanghai VW’s larger model.

China’s new Passat should be facelifted in 2022 and replaced in late 2025. The same applies to the plug-in hybrid which went on sale at the same time as the versions powered solely by a petrol engine.

The Arteon (CC in China) is another D segment model. A wagon should be added within the next six months. On sale in Germany since June 2017 the 4,862mm long hatchback is not only 50mm lengthier than the first generation CC but is pitched as a more expensive, more aspirational car.

It is intriguing that Volkswagen failed to mention the Arteon in the 16 November 2018 media statement about what is to take place at the Emden plant. The Passat, it was announced (it is manufactured at Emden too) will move to Skoda’s Kvasiny plant. This either means that the Arteon will be axed or that it will reinvented for a second generation as an EV: Emden is to be retooled to manufacture MEB architecture models.

E segment

SAIC Volkswagen threw itself into the non-premium E segment of the Chinese market back in 2016. The result was an initial success, but after just two years, the car in question, which is called Phideon, has faded somewhat, deliveries dropping to circa 25,000 units in 2018. In size, it is positioned above the CC (what the Arteon is called in the PRC) but is more expensive than its natural competitors, the Ford Taurus, Buick Lacrosse, Citroen C6 and Toyota Crown.

A PHEV variant had its world premiere in April 2017 at Auto Shanghai with production following four months later. This was the first of thirteen electrified VWs which the German firm will introduce to the Chinese market by 2020. There should be a mid-cycle facelift for the Phideon next year. Depending on how the updated car sells, SAIC VW may or may not directly replace it in 2024. There seems a strong probability that any successor would be fully electric.


VW might not do revolution when it comes to its long-time European best selling cars such as the Golf and Polo but that’s absolutely the case for the brand’s attempt to give electric vehicles mass appeal. The first of a family of affordable EVs will enter production at the tail end of this year. Will the brand’s enormous bet on the public’s appetite for electric cars, not to mention the question of how it will make decent returns on EVs succeed?

The I.D. Neo – what it is known inside Volkswagen as – will be an electric five-door hatchback. Production will commence first at the Zwickau plant in Germany late in 2019. The car is expected to have an NEDC range of up to 500km (311 miles) and to be capable of being recharged in as few as 15 minutes. This will be the brand’s first EV to be specifically designed as such.

At only 4.1m from end to end, the concept was shorter than a Golf, but with a wheelbase (2,740mm) almost on a par with the Passat.

The second model in the ambitious plan to see if electric vehicles have mass appeal will be the I.D. Cross. This crossover will be based on the I.D. Crozz, a 4,625mm long concept which first premiered at April 2017’s Shanghai motor show. An evolution of this concept then appeared at the Frankfurt IAA five months later.

Herbert Diess, the chairman of the Volkswagen brand’s Board of Management, made this statement at Auto Shanghai: “By 2025, we want to boost annual sales of electric vehicles to one million units. The I.D. CROZZ will play a key role in that. Production will begin in 2020.” The four-door car is to be the brand’s first electrically powered crossover utility vehicle (CUV) – a coupé and sport utility vehicle (SUV) in one.

There should be five electric vehicles in the Volkswagen brand’s I.D. project (Neo, Cross, Aero, Lounge and Bus), although there could easily be more (Dune Buggy, Beetle). Vehicles built in Germany will have their battery packs supplied from Volkswagen’s Braunschweig plant. The Volkswagen Group’s oldest manufacturing facility (it opened in 1938) will produce ‘up to 500,000 EV battery packs per year’, the firm stated in April 2018. Prior to this new assignment, Brunswick (the city’s English language name), south west of Wolfsburg has manufactured and/or assembled suspension components, steering systems and battery packs.

To be similar in size to the Tiguan, the I.D. Cross will be available in Europe, North America and China. Volkswagen of America told the media at the LA auto show in November 2017 that a production model based on the I.D. Cross would be the first I.D. model to be available in the USA. This will be from 2020.

Volkswagen insiders also speak of a concept called I.D. AEROe which is likely to be revealed at a Chinese or US motor show later in 2019. Other than this name, few details of what should result in an eventual series production vehicle are known. The body style might be a fastback coupe but this is speculative. Some say the model name will be I.D. Aero and that production will be at the Emden plant in Germany.

The I.D. Lounge, a car which could in theory seriously challenge the Tesla Model S, should be mainly for China and the USA. That should mean a sedan body style. Expect a concept version to this year or next. Production is due to begin in 2022.

For years, there had been rumours suggesting that the Beetle which first went on sale in 2011 would not be replaced. That was due to disappointing sales of that car as US buyers in particular began to buy ever more SUVs and crossovers. The rumours were subsequently confirmed: the Beetle will be discontinued this year. Therefore until the electric Microbus appears in the final quarter of 2022, the era of retro VWs appears to be headed for a hiatus. However, that won’t necessarily be the case. A revival of a Dune Buggy, possibly as a limited build model, is expected to be announced later this quarter and a concept revealed.

The I.D. Bus (that name is speculative) will come to market in 2022. VW confirmed the timing and the production plant in August 2017. The Bus will be manufactured in Hanover by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. This means that both passenger microbus and cargo variants will be available, some with Level 3 autonomy. Volkswagen of America intends to sell both passenger and commercial van versions. It might import these from Germany or build them at its Chattanooga plant.

As for the potential of an electric Beetle, such a car could well be headed for release in the third or fourth quarter of 2023, some 9-12 months after the e-Bus arrives. As with other battery-powered Volkswagens, the architecture would be MEB. Two major changes over the outgoing Beetle would be rear-wheel drive and four doors.

Volkswagen has also sought to trademark the following three names, although they might be for concepts, not production models: I.D. Cruiser, I.D. Freeler and I.D. Streetmate.

Recent reports for many other manufacturers’ future models are grouped in the OEM product strategy summaries section of

Future product program intelligence

More detail on past, current and forthcoming models as well as many other additional Volkswagen vehicles which are not in the feature above can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database which is part of QUBE. This is also where the first details of Jeda, Volkswagen’s future low-cost brand for China, can be found.