Speaking on the eve of the 2014 Detroit Auto Show press days, Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG, announced an ambitious multi-billion-dollar investment program for the North American market that would include the introduction of a new mid-size SUV for the U.S. While offering no details about this long-rumored vehicle, Winterkorn did say that work on what will be a 7-passenger sport utility was already well underway and that it would go on sale here in 2016.
Current and rather well-founded speculation is that the automaker's yet-unnamed new offering will bear a strong resemblance to the Volkswagen CrossBlue SUV Concept (pictured above) that made its debut last year in Detroit. At that time, execs indicated this one-off had been specifically designed with North American buyers in mind. Like that vehicle, the upcoming mid-size production derivative will be based on a modified version of VW's new lightweight, MQB (Modular Transverse Matrix) scalable platform architecture that also underpins a number of other new VW AG products including the latest Golf/Jetta and the new Audi A3. While expected to have both gasoline and turbodiesel engine under its hood, we'll have to wait to see whether the production version also offers the CrossBlue SUV Concept's trick turbodiesel/electric all-wheel-drive plug-in powertrain as an option.
Winterkorn also reiterated VW's intentions to effectively leverage what will be a roughly a $7 billion investment in ways that yield significant gains in its corporate market profile and market share here. "We have set our goal: Volkswagen Group of America aims to sell one million Volkswagen and Audi cars per year in the U.S. by 2018. We are taking up the challenge - with confidence, total commitment and the necessary staying power." Part of that payoff will commence starting tomorrow, when production of the new Gen VII Golf begins at VW's plant in Peubla, Mexico. The car will go on sale here in April as a 2015 model.
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