It’s no secret that Volkswagen is not taking full advantage of the car-buying public’s love affair with crossovers, especially in North America. Basically a wagon on stilts, Americans can’t get enough of their sporty looks and versatility, along with some SUV attributes. Volkswagen is well aware of the issues, and is remedying a solution, which will be shown in concept form at the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January in Detroit.
Back in 2013, VW showed the CrossBlue Concept as a prelude to a large, seven-passenger CUV. That vehicle has already been approved for production, and will be built at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant in Tennessee, where VW already builds the North American-market Passat. Production of the large, three-row CUV is scheduled to begin sometime in 2016. Meanwhile, the smaller five-passenger crossover, according to Detroit Free Press, will be built on the underpinnings of the production version of the CrossBlue concept, and will soon be approved for production for 2016 or 2017. We should note that the concept for this vehicle won’t serve as a preview the next-generation Tiguan, but a completely separate model from the Golf-based compact crossover.
VW currently sells another crossover in North America and in other markets globally. That model, the Touareg, sells in extremely low volumes due to its premium price, but the automaker will likely continue selling it in North America despite the addition of the similarly-sized, but much less premium CrossBlue Concept.
Back in 2012, Volkswagen set a lofty goal to sell one million vehicles in the U.S. by 2018. So far in 2014, sales are down 11 percent through November, with only 332,912 vehicles sold. So although the clock is ticking, the brand still has time to increase its sales volume and market share. The way to do that is to add two new crossovers to its lineup, while beginning to manufacture key models, such as the Golf, in North America to achieve price parity with competitors.
VW’s sales target have prompted it to make some noteworthy investments in its Chattanooga facility. In July, the automaker announced a $900 million investment in the plant, which will add 2,000 new jobs to the facility. Currently, the plant is home to 1,500 jobs.
Be sure to check back next month for further coverage of Volkswagen’s five-passenger concept CUV live from NAIAS in Detroit.