Volkswagen released details on its 2017 lineup for the U.S. yesterday, including the launch of its crossover-like Golf Alltrack wagon, some new Beetle versions, and greater availability of electronic safety systems across more models.
But one entry in the VW lineup was missing.
Volkswagen's William Gock confirmed to Green Car Reports yesterday that the company has withdrawn the compact Jetta Hybrid sedan from its U.S. range for 2017.
First offered as a 2013 model, the Jetta Hybrid paired a single-motor hybrid system and a small 1.4-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine in the compact Jetta sedan that launched as a 2011 model.
At 45 mpg combined (42 mpg city, 48 mpg highway), it had by far the highest EPA fuel-economy ratings of any Jetta version, including the then-popular TDI diesels.
Aside from the extremely low-volume hybrid version of the pricey Volkswagen Touareg large crossover SUV, it was Volkswagen's sole hybrid offering for four model years.
2014 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
But with gas prices falling, the hybrid Jetta saw its sales fall after its launch, especially over the last year or so.
Its best year was 2013, when Jetta Hybrid sales of 5,655 units represented 4 percent of total Jetta sedan sales of 141,259.
The next year, that dropped to 1.4 percent, or just 1,939 sold of 141,354 Jettas. By 2015, Jetta Hybrid sales of 743 units were a paltry 0.6 percent of total Jetta sedan deliveries of 128,438.
ALSO SEE: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid: First Drive (Nov 2012)
It's no better for the first five months of this year, with 178 Jetta Hybrids making up only 0.4 percent of the Jetta sedan total of 49,659.
Up through September 2015, meanwhile, Volkswagen's well-known TDI diesels made up roughly one-quarter of all VW sales in the U.S.
And the Jetta TDI turbodiesels always outsold the Jetta Hybrid, even in the hybrid's best year of 2013.
2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
Volkswagen, of course, pulled its new diesel vehicles off sale last October; it is still very much in the midst of dealing with the diesel emission scandal that erupted the previous month.
But at the launch event for the 2013 Jetta Hybrid sedan in the fall of 2012, its marketers admitted that despite efforts to point hybrid buyers toward its diesel lineup, buyers for the two cars actually differed considerably.
Almost four years later, much has changed for Volkswagen. The company committed last week to launching 30 new battery-electric vehicles globally over the next 10 years.
CHECK OUT: VW Diesel Buyers, Hybrid Buyers: Both Want Fuel Economy, But Beyond That... (Oct 2012)
Even if electric cars make up one-quarter of its sales by 2025, though, we suspect the withdrawal of the Jetta Hybrid is far from the end of hybrid Volkswagens.
The company's product planners will need additional electrification to meet increasingly stringent fuel-economy and carbon-emission limits around the world with its remaining combustion-engined vehicles.
Whether they're conventional hybrids like the withdrawn Jetta model or plug-in hybrids like the Audi A3 e-tron (whose Golf GTE counterpart isn't yet sold in the U.S.), we expect more hybrids from VW in future years.
[hat tip: Alex Bernstein]