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Polk Profiles Owners of Volkswagen's New Beetle

8 January 1999

Return of Flower Power or 90's Novelty? Polk Profiles Owners of Volkswagen's New Beetle
    DETROIT, Jan. 8 -- Named this week as the North American
International Auto Show "North American Car of the Year" and with the
widespread attention it garnered last year following its introduction, recent
analysis by The Polk Company reveals just who is driving Volkswagen's New
Beetle.
    Polk's data indicates that today's Beetle buyers are older and wealthier
than their original counterparts.  The highest number of new Beetle owners
(22.5% of the sample) fall into the $50,000 - 74,999 annual household income
range, with the second-highest count of owners (20.6%) making more than
$125,000 per year.  On the upper end of the income stream, Volkswagen and the
New Beetle track well above national averages, suggesting a more upscale
owner.

                        Household Income Distribution*

                Income Range         VW Beetle   National Avg.   Diff.

                Under $15,000           3.7%         19.7%      -16.0%
                $15,000-19,999          1.7%          4.9%       -3.2%
                $20,000-29,999          6.7%         15.8%       -9.1%
                $30,000-39,999          8.5%         14.0%       -5.5%
                $40,000-49,999          9.5%         10.3%       -0.8%
                $50,000-74,999         22.5%         20.1%       +2.4%
                $75,000-99,999         16.2%          8.2%       +8.0%
                $100,000-124,999       10.6%          3.1%       +7.5%
                $125,000 +             20.6%          3.9%      +16.7%

                *Percentages based on data sample.       Source:  Polk

    "It has been widely recognized that Volkswagen used a creative and
innovative approach to market the New Beetle last year," said Glenn Forbes,
Polk's vice president of transportation business development.  "It has become
a very 'upscale' buy as compared to the original Beetle -- which many of us
remember as being an economical choice for lower-income or first-time buyers."
    In terms of age profiling, the New Beetle has carved its niche squarely
between the ages of 35 and 54 -- classic baby boomer territory.  Of Polk's
sample, 34.6% of New Beetles are registered to households that fall in the
45 to 54 years of age category, while 29.7% are in the 35-44 age group.

                           Age Category Comparison*

               Age Category (Yrs.)   VW Beetle   VW Overall   National Avg.

                   18-24                1.5%        3.4%           2.8%
                   25-34               14.5%       30.3%          25.7%
                   35-44               29.7%       24.9%          34.7%
                   45-54               34.6%       23.9%          14.4%
                   55-64               13.3%       11.7%           8.8%
                   65-74                5.0%        4.5%           9.2%
                   Over 75              1.4%        1.3%           4.4%

            *Percentages based on data sample.
             Age categories based on head of household.
             VW Overall based on 1997 model year.          Source:  Polk

    "In 1997, Volkswagen registered nearly 50 percent of its sales in the
35 to 54 age group," Forbes said.  "The New Beetle generated 64 percent of its
sales in that same segment, indicating that it has increased VW's appeal among
the baby-boomer consumers."
    And just where are the new Beetle buyers coming from?  The largest segment
of owners are former VW Jetta drivers, while the fourth-largest segment is the
buyers who still own an original Beetle.  Conquesting, it appears, has played
a major role in the New Beetle's sales.
    "Our data indicates that nearly 60 percent of New Beetle sales are
conquests for Volkswagen," Forbes added, "demonstrating that it is boosting
consideration and purchase among owners of other manufacturer models."
    Polk's Volkswagen Beetle data analysis was compiled using the Polk Model
Monitor(R) and is based on 18,571 retail buyers through September 1998,
representing 65.5 percent of retail registrations.
    Polk has served the automotive industry for 77 years and is the longest
standing curator of automobile records in the United States.  Founded in 1870,
Polk launched its motor statistical operations in 1922 when the first car
registration reports were published.  It provides multi-dimensional
intelligence information solutions to companies as a statistician for the
motor vehicle industry; as a direct-marketing resource; as a supplier of
demographic and lifestyle data and database-marketing services; as a publisher
of city directories; and as a data enabler for geographic information systems.
Based in Southfield, Mich., Polk is a privately held firm that is expanding
globally, currently operating in: the United States, Canada, England, France,
Germany, Australia, Spain, Holland and Costa Rica.
    For more information contact Dan Willis, director of public relations, at
(248) 728-7827; by pager at (800) 406-8457; by email dan_willis@polk.com.