Today's Wall Street Journal (subs. req'd) reports on the attempts of Volkswagen to get in touch with the needs of its American customers (although, from our own conversations with VW owners, they'd go a long way simply by building more reliable cars). But is the name of the project intended to say something about VW's view of the American market?
For years, Volker Jagodzinski, brought up in the no-nonsense cockpits of German cars, couldn't understand why Americans treat their automobiles like rolling extensions of their living rooms.
Then the Volkswagen AG engineer spent 3½ grueling hours on a Greyhound bus from Seattle to Portland, Ore., and saw the vast distances Americans journey in their cars -- and why so few resort to trains or buses.
"If you lose your car here, you're done," Mr. Jagodzinski says. "I was surprised by the amount of time people spent in their cars."
His road trip was a part of a Volkswagen project dubbed "Moonraker," a year-and-a-half-long effort to gain a deeper understanding of American culture in hopes of making cars more appealing to U.S. consumers.
Yes, Moonraker. Maybe it's just a clever misdirection to hide the project from competitors. Names for other countries don't provide much guidance:
The car maker started a similar cultural immersion project in China dubbed "Swan Lake" and another as-yet-named team will begin in India in January.