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VW considering third SUV

Face of the future: Volkswagen’s Cross Coupe concept previews the styling of the brand’s next wave of SUVs, which could include a mid-size model between the Tiguan and Touareg.

SUV to fit between Tiguan and Touareg a “great opportunity” for Volkswagen

31 May 2012

VOLKSWAGEN of America CEO Jonathan Browning has hinted that a third SUV to fit between the compact Tiguan and luxury Touareg is under consideration.

According to a Bloomberg report, Mr Browning told journalists at a recent Auto Press Association event in Detroit that there is “a great opportunity for us for a mid-size SUV in the US”.

However, he did not divulge when such a model will be introduced or if it is in development, but said it would fill out VW’s “core portfolio” in North America.

In Australia, a mid-sized Volkswagen SUV would plug the $20,000 gap between the top-spec Tiguan 155TSI and entry-level Touareg 150TDI, providing the German brand with a direct competitor to mainstream SUVs like the Toyota Kluger, Holden Captiva 7 and Ford Territory.

From late this year, Volkswagen Australia will field a competitor to the Subaru Outback in the shape of its off-road-oriented, all-wheel-drive Passat Alltrack wagon, expected to be priced around $51,000, but Mr Browning is understood to be referring to a dedicated SUV rather than a modified passenger car.

The third VW SUV would logically be based on the Audi Q5 platform, which is being used to underpin the new Porsche Macan, or even Volkswagen’s new MQB platform, which can be used as a basis for cars ranging in size from Polo to Passat.

 center imageLeft: Volkswagen of America CEO Jonathan Browning Volkswagen Touareg and Tiguan.

North America would be a key market for the SUV and several brands build their SUVs in the US to satisfy local demand as well as exports, with the BMW X5/X6 and Mercedes-Benz M-Class being imported to Australia from there, while the Toyota Kluger and next-generation Nissan Pathfinder are also likely to be US-sourced.

Audi is weighing up several sites in Mexico to build a factory, with the next-generation Q5 SUV a prime candidate for production there from 2016 – and in theory it would not take much for a Q5-based Volkswagen SUV to be sent down the same line.

Another alternative could be an Amarok-based model, but Volkswagen’s project development engineer for the Argentinean-built one-tonne ute, Karsten Wohler, told GoAuto there is no SUV derivative in the pipeline at this point.

A Passat-based SUV could also be built at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant in Tennessee that opened last year and Mr Browning said the facility is hiring an additional 1000 workers to meet demand and boost production from 150,000 units per year to 170,000.

He said additional investment could further boost annual output to more than 250,000 units, but that the company has not made a decision on this.

Volkswagen has previewed the look of its next generation of SUVs with the Tiguan-sized Cross Coupe unveiled at last year’s Tokyo motor show.

The Cross Coupe was the first concept to be built on VW’s MQB modular platform, which will make its production debut under the skin of Audi’s A3 hatch, due for Australian release in the first half of next year.

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