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Has Volkswagen delayed its next S-Class-fighting Phaeton flagship for cost reasons?

Buyers impatiently waiting for the next generation of the Volkswagen Phaeton might need to give the company a little bit more time. Sources close to the Wolfsburg-based automaker have revealed that the flagship sedan has been delayed once again for cost reasons.

Volkswagen is working hard to boost its operating profit from approximately 2.7 percent of sales in the first half of this year to over six percent by 2018. The next Phaeton is said to cost nearly three times as much as a base-model Euro-spec Passat, which carries a base price of of 26,000 euros (roughly $30,000) in its home country of Germany. Although it will inevitably be a low-volume model, the Phaeton can potentially generate a good deal of profit for Volkswagen so making sure it’s affordable to build is a top priority.

Details about precisely what changes will be made to the Phaeton to make it less costly to build aren’t available yet. The limousine was the brainchild of former Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piëch, but now that the executive has been ousted designers and engineers are said to have a lot more freedom to modify the design inside, outside and under the skin.

The next Phaeton is still on track to make a return to the United States after a long hiatus. Buyers in Europe will reportedly have access to a 450-horsepower, twin-turbocharged diesel-burning V8 and a 6.0-liter W12 shared with the Bentley Bentayga, among others, but U.S.-spec models will exclusively be offered with 400-horsepower gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain made up of a V6 engine and a compact electric motor.

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The same sources say that the Phaeton was essentially ready for production before the delay, which seemingly indicates a debut is imminent. We won’t see it next month in Frankfurt, but it could be shown in the metal for the first time either next January at the Detroit Motor Show or the following March at the Geneva Motor Show.