Volkswagen AG is building the business case for a large sports utility vehicle in the United States, according to top executives at the German carmaker. The vehicle is considered to be vital to the carmaker’s plan to nearly double the VW brand's sales in the US to 800,000 units by 2018. VW unveiled the CrossBlue -- a three-row, seven-seat concept SUV -- in January at the Detroit Auto Show.
According to Ulrich Hackenberg, VW's board member for product development, the carmaker is contacting customers and dealers to estimate potential sales of the SUV and to build a business case. Michael Macht, VW's board member for production, said that right now, the cost of the business case remains a little too high so far.
Macht remarked that the expected cost tends to drop as the business case is refined, adding that it is how it always works. Macht said that VW would build the SUV in North America, with Mexico and Chattanooga eyed as possible production sites.
VW has been producing the Passat sedan in Chattanooga since 2011. According to Macht, a new plant in the US is an option, depending on available local subsidies. He discounted Canada as a possible manufacturing location since it is too far from VW's supply base.
Macht disclosed that the German carmaker has yet to discuss possible incentives for a second assembly line at the Chattanooga plant, which could produce up to 170,000 units annually and builds about 135,000 Passats per year. The Chattanooga plant can still accommodate a second assembly.
Meanwhile, VW sales chief Christian Klinger said that the reception of the CrossBlue concept “was really positive" at the Detroit auto show. He remarked that VW may build two or three more nameplates tailored to US buyers. VW has already tailored vehicles like the Jetta and Passat to US customers. Klinger said that the SUV is supported “from the top of the company down." Following the success of the US version of the Passat, VW chief executive Martin Winterkorn revealed a new goal -- to establish the carmaker in another core segment.
Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept SUV can be transformed into a zero-emissions vehicle, either automatically or by pressing a button. Based on its US test cycle, the VW CrossBlue Concept can travel up to 14 miles in pure electric mode when its lithium-ion battery is fully-charged. This lithium-ion battery packs an energy capacity of 9.8 kWh. And with this all-electric mode, the SUV’s top speed is decreased from 127 mph to 75 mph, helping it achieve optimal driving range. Meanwhile, in the NEDC or New European driving cycle, the VW CrossBlue has a 33-km all-electric driving range. It is, however, important to note that it is not recommended to compare driving ranges directly and to compare the EU and US driving test cycles’ fuel economy values since these tests are not configured in a similar manner.
Moreover, the VW CrossBlue is equipped with six individual seats and it combines the visual impact and the engine technology of an SUV with the roominess of a minivan. Its ride comfort also contributes to its being an ideal cruiser. Meanwhile, it possesses good all-round visibility, which simplifies maneuvering, and it has ESP, a 4-wheel drive system, as well as up to 12 airbags that make it the safest kind of space cruiser there is.
In addition, the new vehicle was designed in Germany with Walter de Silva heading Volkswagen Group’s design team and Klaus Bischoff leading the design team of the Volkswagen Brand, at the same time coordinating closely with Volkswagen of America. Design efforts have merged the German Volkswagen design DNA’s clean lines with an American SUV’s masculine character. As a result, you have a very genuine concept car that does not, in any way, rely on show effects, but rather offers a near-production and near-final look at a new VW SUV model series that is full of potential.
CrossBlue will come in "CrossBlue Glass Flake" finish. As for its dimensions, it is 4,987-millimeter long, 2,015-millimeter wide, and 1,733-millimeter tall. The concept assumes a highly confident stance on road with its large track widths of 1,686 millimeters at the front and 1,696 millimeters at the rear, as well as its newly designed 21” alloy wheels complete with 285/45 tires and flared wheel arches. Dominant track widths, large wheels, and dynamic proportions with long and wide hood, meanwhile, enhance the new CrossBlue’s very masculine image.