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How To Shoot Yourself In The Foot

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

The DriveWrite Archives Topics:  Volkswagen Golf

How To Shoot Yourself In The Foot

Geoff Maxted
October 25, 2013

Good & Bad Cars
The car industry is very, very competitive. Huge sums of money hang on the success or otherwise of new products. Take The Volkswagen Golf (pictured), which is, arguably, one of the most enduring success stories in the history of cars. Next year will see the fortieth anniversary of this iconic car. That’s right; the first one rolled off the production line in 1974 and collectors continue to seek out those early models. It probably isn’t fair to compare those pioneers to today’s high-tech versions but it is probably fair to say that it would still be a decent drive. That’s a success story.

The end result is that every other manufacturer on the planet strives to produce a car that is so consistently good and so consistently popular. Plenty of competitors are on offer and many of them are very good cars. Often, they are cheaper than the Golf, which is at the upper end of this price segment, but, when all is said and done, they are not the Golf.

Volkswagen know this. That’s why they ran an advertising campaign where hopeful salespersons tried to convince buyers that their brand sounded like a Golf when the door was shut, or drove like a Golf, and so on; but in the end it simply wasn’t a Golf.

A very good Japanese brand is in the process of producing a new car, which is meant to be a Golf rival. It is a hatchback that is said to be conventional but beautiful. The manufacturer believes that their new vehicle will be precise in driving dynamics, whilst being predictable (a slightly worrying word) and relaxing.

So far so good. It all sounds very nice and, as it is from a popular brand, is likely to sell well. They are also going to produce a ‘hot’ version for the enthusiasts which makes it a rival for the legendary Golf GTI. Both versions will be built in Europe. The company are planning an audacious and ambitious plan of campaign to promote this new car to the max. Let us hope it does well for them.

But there is a problem. It is called the Volkswagen Golf. The rival has got to be a very good car indeed - and also competitively priced - to take on the might of the German masterpiece. It also doesn’t help (and this is why we haven’t named the company or the new car) that an executive, when talking up his new product, is on record as saying “It’s not a Golf, but it will give you a similar secure impression”. This is called putting your foot in your mouth whilst simultaneously shooting yourself in the foot.

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