Volkswagen Set to Launch New SUVs, Sedans
As it continues to work its way out of the diesel scandal by either buying back or fixing vehicles equipped with 4- and 6-cylinder powerplants that fail to meet emission standards, Volkswagen is set to launch more SUVs and new sedans as it seeks to make up for the elimination of diesels from its lineup, which at one point accounted for as much as 25 percent of its sales.
According to Hinrich Woebcken, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, “We don’t have a plan to bring diesel back. Period.” However, the company is gearing up the launch of the new 3-row midsize Atlas and a new longer Tiguan, which will also have a 3-row option. Further, the company has decided to keep the current 2-row Tiguan in the lineup and will lower its cost to position it as an entry level offering. That model will continue to be sourced from Germany, while the new Tiguan will be built in Mexico and the Atlas at the company’s Chattanooga, Tenn., facility.
Woebken sees plenty of opportunity to grow VW’s overall sales with its SUV strategy since right now the vehicles account for only 10 to 12 percent of its sales, while other manufacturers are running at more than 40 percent of their mixes in crossovers, SUVs and trucks.
“The SUV segment is so big and so strong, we decided that there will be room for two Tiguans,” he said of the strategy. He hinted that the current model, though still keeping its name may also get an additional name to differentiate it from the newer larger model. Ironically, that new model is called the Tiguan Allspace in Europe, though it won’t be called that in the U.S.
With the addition of two more SUVs to its lineup this year, Woebcken called 2017 “the year of the SUV” at VW. The one segment the company won’t commit to at this time is pickup trucks. Even though VW has a midsize truck called the Amorak that is sold in other markets, Woebcken doesn’t feel it would be price competitive with the new generation of successful midsize pickups like the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon as well as established models like the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. Instead, the focus will shift back to cars with Woebcken dubbing 2018 as “the year of sedans.” That model year will see new versions of the Jetta and Passat, as well as remake of the Golf hatchback. A year later, the Arteon Gran Turismo, which was unveiled in production trim at the Geneva Motor Show, will be launched to replace the current CC. The new flagship features coupe-like styling on a 5-door liftback body.
VW is also has an aggressive plan to offer electric vehicles, recently taking the wraps off a longer-range Golf EV, which will now go 125 miles between recharging. The all-new MBE platform, which is dedicated to battery electrics only, will spawn a family of vehicles ranging from a Golf-sized hatch as envisioned by the ID Concept shown last fall in Paris, up through a large people-moving vehicle similar to the Microbus-inspired ID Buzz Concept revealed in Detroit. Woebcken estimates that the U.S. electric vehicle market could grow to as many as 1.5 to 1.8 million vehicles by 2025.