VW controversy of the day - Touareg

VW controversy of the day – Touareg

It might seem like I am being overly negative about VW. But I honestly am not. It just seems that way, considering the amount of fun VW stories that are simply falling into my lap. This story happens to be about the origins of the “Touareg” name. Time for a short-but-fun history lesson.

After reading a story about the Tuareg tribe in Dubai’s 7DAYS newspaper, I did a bit of research on the name. According to VW, the Touareg is named after the Tuareg, a nomadic tribe in the Sahara Desert. These “free folk,” as the name translates, used to roam the Sahara supporting themselves by raiding neighbouring tribes, leading caravans and extracting taxes from trans-Sahara travelers. But with modernisation, they are more sedentary nowadays, living in urban settings on the outskirts of the desert.

Or so you’d think. The above-mentioned newspaper story states that this tribe from Niger still practices slavery extensively. The modern slave trade is so bad in Niger that an estimated 8% of the population are slaves over there.

When the Touareg first debuted back in 2003, American VW dealers were so concerned about their first 4WD being named after a slave-trading tribe that they requested a name change. Of course, the sizeable portion of Americans being as ignorant as Bush, the controversy never escalated further. Who cares about some snot-level country out in Africa, eh?

Unlike meaningless names such as “ML500” and “X5,” VW can be happy in the fact that their names mean something, so owners have a story to tell. I am not making any of this up. Honest.

What do you think?



  1. Interesting article Mashfique.

    Damn!!I was thinking of picking up a Touareg in the coming months(don’t want to be called a slave trader. LOL). By the way, is it a good/safe bet putting your money on a VW Touareg, especially considering the running costs, maintenance etc? Your articles also suggest it’s up there with the rest of the ‘pack’ in the off-roading dept. which is quite good to know.

  2. Author

    It is a good offroader to traverse the countryside for slaves. You can also fit 10 slaves in the luggage area. But as any true offroad guy will tell you, you will always break something on the harder dunes. At which point it is much more expensive to fix on a VW. Also, its reliability history is pretty poor in terms of electricals. If you can manage that, then join the Touareg clan!

  3. Thanks for the feedback Mashfique. The issue with the electricals is noted. I had minor niggles with a Peugeot that I owned about 2 years ago. Somehow most of the European marques seem to face some type of electrical problem or the other in this region.

    I think I’ll put my money on a Nissan Xterra. Only wish it didn’t come with leaf spring suspension at the back and an interior like that of a pick-up truck. I believe theres an update coming in 2009-2010.

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