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VW built for America Jetta roars

Slice the price and watch buyers come running to VW dealerships.

That was Volkswagen’s strategy for the redesigned 2011 Jetta sedan introduced last fall. The content was changed, the price was cut $1,600 and, yes, new buyers appeared on VW dealers’ doorsteps.

The Jetta, bigger and built to American tastes, is on a record sales pace this year, despite a subsequent $500 price hike in April.

June’s combined U.S. sales jumped 88 percent for the wagon (which was not redesigned) and the sedan (which was). In fact, June was Jetta’s best month ever, with 17,105 sales. Six-month sales hit 91,752 units, a 66 percent jump.

So buyers must be gravitating to a low-priced model, right?

A few weeks, ago my colleague Diana T. Kurylko interviewed Jonathan Browning, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. Browning had an interesting comment: Jetta’s lower base price attracted new customers and the average transaction price increased.

“We are selling more units above $19,000 than ever before,” Browning said.

After decades of trial and error, VW has figured out what Americans want.

The next test will be the U.S.-built, redesigned 2013 Passat arriving this fall.

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