Some history of the R32 as it relates to the US market. (courtesy Daemon42 late 2003)

 

The Delay getting the R to market in the US was due to two main reasons:

1. R32 was never originally meant to come to the US

2. European demand far outstripped supply.

 

The R32 story as I've pieced it together from the various information that flowed in here and from other sources (maybe jamie can correct anything I mess up badly enough) was this.

 

VAG originally intended to only make 5000 R32s, period. And it wasn't going to come to the US. Too bad for us.. Due in no small part to the lobbying of a small group of US journalists including Jamie, as well as the large enthusiast community here (remember the semi-official VW R32 poll on the Vortex over a year ago?), plus the fact that Dr. Pischetsrieder sorta wanted to show it off anyway (despite soft interest from VWoA and VWoG), they made the decision about last October, to send some to us. At that time they weren't yet on the roads in any volume so European demand wasn't known. They figured they'd sell about 3000 of them elsewhere as a high priced specialty model with fairly low demand, and 1700-2000 would come to the US (enough to ensure that every VW dealer had a chance at one).

 

Then they started selling like hotcakes. Seriously high demand. About the same time we get confirmation from VW via Jamie that it's coming. VWoA doesn't make an official announcement until the Detroit auto show in January and their best ETA for US delivery is "late summer 2003". That coincides with the latter part of the initial production run of 5000 (which eventually did finish up in October).

 

By February it's pretty obvious that European (and world) demand is much much higher than expected. They decide to try to fill that demand (where they're selling the car for $35-40k USD) instead of cutting it short for our benefit, and their loss (they promised us it'd come for "under $30k"). They decide to allocate the entire first run of 5000 to non-US countries (Australia got left out in the cold too).

 

As a side story, they appeared to have always planned to build some DSG R32's near the end of the initial production run. So the availability/non-availability of DSG in the US follows their initial allocation plan. If they'd built 1000 DSG R32s and our original total US allocation had been say.  1700 cars, then we'd have seen maybe 700 6spds, and 1000 DSGs. Or perhaps ony some fraction of the DSG R32s here, and some elsewhere. As it became obvious that more and more R32s were going to be sold outside the US, it pushed the US allocation beyond the 6spds, and there was actually a short time where there was a rumor from multiple sources that the US would get *only* DSG R32s (last ones off the line). There was a large outcry, lots of polls.. etc.. The rumor was never officially confirmed or denied, but it simply ceased to be relevant once they scrapped the idea of us getting the leftovers from the first run and deciding to start a new production run just for us, away went the DSG R32s as well.

 

Ok. So they finally decided to do a second full run of R32s somewhere around Feb/March timeframe. I dug up a thread a couple weeks ago from that timeframe where they were already talking about the first "delay", which pushed the ETA back from "late summer" (which was *always* the earliest official timeframe) to "end of the year". In the meantime they sold out the entire first run in Europe and other countries in like 2-3 months.

 

They made some DSG R32's.. later found them to be unreliable, and otherwise finished off the first production run early/mid October timeframe. (At which time there were a number of rumors that we were not in fact getting any R32s because "production has stopped". *sigh* Some people.) We had already figured out some time before then that "end of the year" was more likely going to be first quarter 2004, so that was the second delay. Yes, that's right, there's only been two delays of the US-spec R32.

 

They told Jamie and others that US production would start between week 45 and 48. Turns out it started week 44 (last week of October/first week of November), and so far everything is looking on track for the first ones to hit dealer lots early February, with most of the current allocations in the midwest and possibly eastern regions. The rest will trickle in mid/late Feb, March timeframe to the rest of the regions. There should also be a couple US-spec examples on our shores in the next couple weeks as some dealers get cars that will ultimately go to auto shows, and then be sold. (We've heard from one dealer to this effect).

 

As of right now, some people already have VINs for their R32's and dealer computers are showing ETAs consistent with what I've said above. All told, the "official" release date was delayed about 6 months. Not bad considering we weren't supposed to get em in the first place.

 

Some additional info also courtesy Daemon42.

 

There were rumors about it early/mid summer 2002.

 

They first started showing it to journalists nearly 18 months ago. Jamie's first test drive of a pre-production model was 08/15/02.  At that time an official poll was created to gauge interest in the R32 in the US. Notice at the bottom of the above article Jamie says: "Please only vote in the poll if you would actually purchase an R32 at a price at $32,000 or less. We'll send the results to Volkswagen of America and we'll see what happens. Stay tuned..." With a link to the poll, and from there, the results.  Over 4600 people responded to that poll. The comments people left are quite interesting. I see mine on Page 1 of 19 There was a rumor that they might like to see a little upfront deposit money as they did with the 337, which was why you'll see folks mention a deposit in the comments.

 

This forum was started 11/02 when folks in Europe were just taking delivery. Unofficial word from VW through Jamie confirmed that it was coming 11/19/02 (http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=591337).

 

Official word that it was coming to the US at the NAIAS show last year just after the new year (http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=651077).