Volkswagen has clearly taken its lumps since the Dieselgate scandal broke in September. But while you might not like what VW did to cheat its emissions responsibilities, if you’re looking for a new car, there’s no better deal right now than on a Volkswagen. We talked to one buyer who purchased a new 2015 Volkswagen GTI and saw almost 20 percent off the sticker price, with no negotiation.
If you’ve paid attention to automotive photography at all over the last 30 years, you’ve seen Greg Jarem’s work. He worked as a freelance photographer for Mercedes-Benz and BMW in the 1980s, and eventually went on to work for Subaru. In the 2000s, if you saw pictures of a Subaru rally car off the ground, there was a good chance than Greg Jarem took it. He also photographed features in some of the world’s most recognized automotive magazines, most notably, Automobile magazine in its heyday.
(Greg Jarem photograph for Automobile magazine)
Greg was in the market for a new car after driving Mercedes-Benz products for ages. He settled on a Volkswagen GTI and started looking in earnest, just as Volkswagen’s emissions crisis broke. Without going into great detail, the prospects for Volkswagen have been disastrous. Prior to the scandal, Volkswagen owned four of the top five diesel vehicle spots in the United States, only behind the Ram 1500 pickup.
Surprisingly, sales in the United States — where the scandal first broke — rose slightly in October. Globally, the brand suffered a five-percent hit, mostly because sales plunged in Russia and Brazil. But here, sales rose 0.2% in October. That led to conflicting headlines at CNNMoney (“Volkswagen Sales Plunge on Emissions Scandal”) and Road & Track (“Volkswagen Can’t Keep Up With Huge Surge In Sales”).
Both stories tell about half the actual situation. Yes, Volkswagen sales rose 0.2%. That’s remarkable considering the diesel cars it sells — 15 percent of its total volume annually — are sitting on the lot under a no sale order. But the way Volkswagen is actually moving iron is essentially giving the cars away.
Volkswagen’s rebates to try and keep people walking in the showroom are fairly staggering. There’s a rebate of up to $1,500 for current Volkswagen customers to get them to stick with the brand. But for Greg Jarem, that’s just where the rebates and incentives started.
He found the car at a dealer in Tulsa, Oklahoma that claimed about 47 percent of its sales were diesels. The MSRP on the Volkswagen GTI SE he chose was $30,020. The car sat on the lot with an asking price of $26,488.
Cutting the price even further, Jarem realized that he could take advantage of a $2,000 loyalty bonus (which expired in favor of a $1,000 loyalty bonus on November 2) because his son owns a VW TDI that was built 14 years ago, before anybody even knew diesels went through emissions.
Jarem is also a member of the Sports Car Club of America. That dropped the price another $500, because the SCCA is a VW partner. Jarem also took advantage of Volkswagen’s captive financing at 2.9%, which entitled him to another $500.
All told, his final price, including the dealers $199 paperwork fee, was $24,187, excluding the State of Rhode Island sales tax.
Now, you may have noticed that the dealer was located in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Jarem resides in Rhode Island, 1,547 miles east. He could’ve had the car shipped, but instead took advantage of some airline miles and booked a cheap flight from Boston to Tulsa, intent on driving the car home himself, photographing his journey along the way.
Of course, there’s a cost in that, too. You’d have to factor in a plane ticket, hotels, gas and food along the way, plus lost time if you’re working. But Jarem looked at his few days on the road like America’s version of a European Delivery Program, getting a chance to get comfortable with his new car, and seeing some of the less-visited sites along the way.
His trip took him through Bentonville, Arkansas, home of Walmart headquarters and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The museum was founded by the daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton, and its nearly half billion dollar permanent collection includes a George Washington portrait by Gilbert Stuart, and selected works from Jackson Pollack, Norman Rockwell, Jasper Johns and Winslow Homer.
From there, the trip took him through Kennett, Missouri (“Birthplace of Sheryl Crow”), Dyersburg, Tennessee, Bristol, Tennessee, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and on to Bristol, Rhode Island.
You can see all the photos from Greg’s trip in the gallery below: