A new three-row SUV from Volkswagen will be launched this January at the Detroit Auto Show, according to Volkswagen brand global design chief Klaus Bischoff when interviewed by Automobile Magazine. At the Los Angeles auto show, Bischoff said that this new model will feature the same platform used for the U.S.-market Passat.
It will most probably be produced beside it in the Tennessee plant and will likely rival the models dominating the segment such as the Honda Pilot. The three-row Routan minivan is currently available but it will stop sales as Chrysler intends to discontinue the Town & Country and overhaul the Dodge Grand Caravan, which the Routan is based on.
In addition, Volkswagen’s U.S.-market SUVs like the Tiguan and Touareg could only carry five passengers. This means that it’s the right time for Volkswagen to enter the three-row rivalry in the U.S.
By building the new model on the American Passat platform, Volkswagen will be able to produce the SUV at its flexible plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
CEO Martin Winterkorn dropped hints of this possibility this year when he suggested that the company’s plant in Tennessee could later produce an SUV that will be more spacious than the Tiguan.
Volkswagen has started to implement its plan to increase its capacity in the factory. Last July, a third shift was added to increase the annual production capacity to 180,000 units by 2013.
This is 30,000 cars higher than the present capacity of this plant. So far in 2012, Volkswagen has sold 92,017 Chattanooga-built Passats, placing it on course to achieve sales of about 110,000 units for the entire year. This means that it would have enough capacity to add one more model to the factory’s production lines.