By John W. Verity  |  Posted 2005-08-04 Print this article Print

Who cares about owner's manuals? The German automaker does. It sees that book in the glove compartment as a means of improving its relationships with customers.

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Though its extra attention to manuals will convince few people to choose a Passat or Golf, Volkswagen reckons that the manuals, delivered in the form of loose-leaf binders, help firm up the company's image and relationships with customers.

Reviewers' reactions to the Phaeton's glitzy customized manuals have been mixed. When describing the first Phaeton in 2002, Car and Driver magazine was wowed by the vehicle's ability to display its entire manual on a dashboard screen. But Michael A. Coates, who reviews high-end cars at a Web site he operates called Driven to Drive, saw the 2004 Phaeton manual as going overboard. It "has all the appearances of being luxurious," he writes, "but when it's 'a dark and stormy night' and you want the instructions on how to change a wheel, you do not want to be trying to figure out how to open the luxurious but fangled clasp on the hand-stitched leather binder—nor do you want to flip through pages that do not want to turn on the, albeit very stylish, 'square' rings."

Perhaps Phaeton owners aren't the ones changing their own tires, anyway. What matters most to Volkswagen is getting new manuals done in new languages, quickly and at a reasonable cost. And, apparently, it has achieved just that.

Story Guide:
Volkswagen: Paper Manuals Equal Good Customer Service

  • How Do You Say 'Clutch' in Turkish?
  • Shifting Translation Into High Gear
  • Low-Tech Medium, High-Octane Oomph
  • Volkswagen Manual Strategy at a Glance
  • Base Case: Volkswagen At a Glance

    Next page: Volkswagen Manual Strategy at a Glance

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