Auto

VW, still creating a buzz

BY BRIAN BONITTO Associate Editor — Auto and Entertainment

Friday, February 01, 2013    

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VOLKWAGEN'S Super Bowl ad has certainly got a lot of tongues wagging.

In fact, the German-made vehicle has been doing so for quite some time in Jamaica.

"The Volkswagen (VW) Beetles created quite a buzz when they first arrived in the island in the mid-1950s and were very popular for over three decades," said Kent LaCroix, president of the new-car umbrella group Automobile Dealers Association.

LaCroix, who has been involved in the Jamaica's auto industry for over two decades, says the first VW dealership was located on lower Elletson Road in Kingston and was owned by Hetburn Sinclair.

The ADA president said 'the bug' was an attractive alternative to the American-made imports at the time.

"From housewives to business people, everybody had one," he told Auto.

After a 65-year run, the last Type 1 'bug' rolled off the production line in 2006. However, the VW appeal continues today with a wide array of next generation offerings.

"From the first-time car buyer... from the line staffer, all the way up to top executives. There is something for everybody," said Sloane Jackson, market analyst at the ATL Group, which distributes Volkswagen in Jamaica through its ATL Automotive dealership.

Jackson said the Polo GTi and Jetta are for younger buyers and those with an active lifestyle; for persons in the manufacturing, mining and farming sector, the Amorak is ideal; while the Passat and Tiguan is suited for the executive.

"VW's safety features are standard and industry-leading, they are fuel efficient, and technologically advanced for an attractive price," he continued.

According to Jackson, since ATL Automotive assumed the role of distributor in 2010, VW sales have inroads in Jamaica's auto market.

"In 2011, the VW had 6.6 per cent of the local market. Last year, VW grew to 8.8 per cent and was fourth in sales overall," he said.

The VW has has long been part of popular culture. In America, it has been associated with the hippie and surf movements of the 1960s.

Disney's The Love Bug comedy series starred Herbie, a 1963 Beetle. In Woody Allen's 1973 film Sleeper, Allen's character was able to start a Beetle which lay unused in a cave for 200 years, leading to the punchline: "Wow, they really built these things, didn't they?"

Reggae king Bob Marley purchased a VW which he used to distribute records in the 1960s. The shell of that vehicle can still be seen at Culture Yard in Trench Town, St Andrew.

"People who purchase a VW love their vehicle. They are always happy knowing they are getting the best value for money," Jackson added.

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