Volkswagen officially announced today that it will build its new midsize SUV in the United States at its plant in Chattanooga. As a result, the German carmaker will invest $900 million as it needs to expand the factory and will add about 2,000 jobs.
The production of the new vehicle is set to begin in late 2016 and as expected the new mid-sized SUV will be based on the CrossBlue Concept that made its debut back in 2013 at the Detroit Auto Show.
The seven-seat CUV will take on vehicles such as the Ford Explorer or the Toyota Highlander and it is a key product to Volkswagen’s growth plans. For those who don’t know, Volkswagen aims to sell about 800,000 vehicles per year in the United States by 2018.
Last year, VW managed to sell just over 400,000 vehicles and this year sales are down 13 percent.
“The United States of America is and will remain one of the most important markets for Volkswagen. Over the past few years, we have achieved a lot there. We are now launching the second phase of the Volkswagen campaign in the US. With the midsize SUV, the expansion of the Chattanooga plant and the new development center, the focus is on the wishes of the US customer. This is also a strong signal for the US as an industrial and automobile production location. The Volkswagen brand is going on the attack again in America,” said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, in Wolfsburg.
Christian Koch, CEO and Chairman of Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations, said: “We are proud to be making the new midsize SUV here. This is fantastic news for the plant and proof of the confidence placed in the workforce that does a great job here making high-quality cars every day.”
Just by pressing a button -- or even when it’s activated automatically – the new Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept becomes an all-electric SUV as powered by a lithium-ion battery with an energy capacity of 9.8 kWh. Once fully charged, this battery allows the CrossBlue to offer up to 14 miles of all-electric range (electric mode based on the US test cycle, with the top speed limited to just 75 mph (120 km/h) for optimal driving range. As per new European driving cycle (NEDC), the CrossBlue offers an all-electric driving range of 33 km. Notably, the driving ranges and fuel economy values of the driving test cycles in the US and EU cannot be directly compared because of the difference in test configuration.
In concept, the CrossBlue blends the engine technology and visual appeal of an SUV with the spaciousness of a minivan, as highlighted by its six individual seats. The CrossBlue is a suitable cruiser that offers excellent ride comfort and good all-round visibility. Furthermore, the new CrossBlue is a very safe vehicle thanks to the fact that it is fitted with ESP and a four-wheel drive system as well as up to 12 airbags.
As led by Walter de Silva and Klaus Bischoff, design chiefs for Volkswagen Group and Volkswagen, respectively, the carmaker made the design in close coordination with Volkswagen of America. Thanks to this design effort, the CrossBlue features the clean lines of VW’s German design DNA and the masculinity of an American SUV. While the CrossBlue is still a concept vehicle, it is a genuine car that doesn’t depend on show effects to attract attention. Instead, CrossBlue provides a glimpse into a potential new SUV model from VW.