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Audi A7 Minivan Info & Soapbox
Here is what I do know of the minivan. Currently they are manufacturered
by VW in Portugal and developed jointly between Ford and VWaG. All thusfar
version's top engines are VR6s the narrow angle V6 found in top of the line
VWs. I am guessing they are mounted transveresely like the A3 and not
longitudinally like the A4 and A6. I'm not sure if the car is based on any
VW platform, but all wheel drive is available on the top of the line Ford
model. I am not sure if this is Quattro (which I doubt) or Syncro
(possible) or a Ford awd system of some sort perhaps from the Escort Cossy.
The van also comes with four regular doors ala Honda Odyssey, and not
sliding doors like the proven best selling Chrysler and Ford and soon to be
In any case it would seem that the much rumored A7 minivan will come on
that platform. While I disagree with the method (I'd prefer a B-chassis
minivan with 2 wheelbases on the A4 and A6 length B chassis) the idea seems
fairly straightforward. My only fear is that the car will suffer from being
brought down through association. While not bad vehicles, the Sharan,
Alhambra and Ford versions are not upmarket luxury vehicles, like Audi
would prefer the A7 to be. I would think, especially in Europe, that a VR6
(VW engined) Audi minivan will not call out much of a premium in the market
place. A B chassis van however could house anything from a TDI to a full
blown V8 (hubba hubba), thus pushing Audi's technological and premium image
and lowering the cost of the big 8 by building it in larger mass. It'd also
give Audi through VW to build a manufacturing point in the US market.
Imagine if you will, an Audi manufacturing point in the US. I would look
at rural Maryland myself, perhaps somewhere between Baltimore and
Frederick, MD. Audi/VW could ship out of the ports of Baltimore and
Philadelphia. If VWAG used it for production of B chassis cars alotted for
the US, Canada, Mexico and South America it would see enough production to
warrant building it.
By B chassis cars I include the new VW Passat, A4, A6, A7 Minivan (if
based on B Chassis and not Sharan). Future products would almost certainly
include sport and other derivitives of these cars like an A4 Cabriolet, A6
Coupe (rumoured by Motor Trend), S6, VW Vanagon (a VW minivan ala A7), etc
etc. All cars on the same chassis would mean little downtime for retooling
between runs (example A7 and Vanagon minivan runs followed by downtime
followed by A6 and Passat runs, downtime A4 runs, etc etc etc.). It would
almost certainly cost less than building in Germany. For more volume they
could make the Maryland plant the exclusive manufacturing point of the
A7/Vanagon for the world's markets since Americans know minivans best
anyway. This would be similar to the BMW plant in Spartansburg exclusively
building the Z3.
Besides, VW already has A chassis plants in Puebla Mexico and Brazil, but
all B chassis cars remain coming from Europe where cost of labor is high.
However if in the case of an RS4, RS6 or RS7 I would suggest these be built
in europe, preferably Stuttgart or Ingolstadt for quality of performance
This whole idea would allow Audi/VW to supply these markets with what they
demand...CHOICES. There is simply no reason for Audi and VW not to be
selling a ton of cars in the US and Canadian markets. To nay sayers I say
look at Chrysler in the 90s. Look at Honda in the 80s. It can happen and
smart product marketing and giving the customers what they want along with
image building vehicles are what can build up this base. Chrysler is
snatching up marketshare in a market where it is amazingly hard to do so.
While Audi is on a role, they are a long way off and need to make sure they
keep the snowball rolling.
Maybe I should stop to breathe now.