FRANKFURT, Germany — The oddly named I.D. Crozz has stolen the show in Frankfurt and is headed for production, but Volkswagen has kept its next U.S. crossover a well-kept secret. With the seven-seat Atlas already firmly in place in the United States, Volkswagen looked through its inventory and scoured through its development department and came up empty. The Tiguan Limited is headed for retirement, the new Golf-based T-Roc is both too small and too expensive and the even-smaller T-Cross? Go home, T-Cross, you've got school tomorrow.
Still, the compact-crossover segment is booming all over the world, and Volkswagen doesn't have one here in the world's most lucrative car market. But that's about to change. Well, it's about to change in 2019 or 2020.
The German automaker is taking a leaf out of its Atlas/Teramont playbook by planning a new SUV to be built and sold in both China and North America, with Russia the third potential market. The new, unnamed crossover won't, though, make it back to be sold in Volkswagen's homeland, just like the Atlas.
SUVs will make up a third of all Volkswagen models sold by 2020.
The crossover will launch in China late next year with both gasoline and plug-in hybrid powertrains, sitting on the MQB platform. Volkswagen's director of development, Dr. Frank Welsch, admitted the newcomer would flesh out the bottom of the lineup in the U.S., sitting beneath the Touareg, the Atlas and the new Tiguan. It's expected to land at about the same size as the outgoing first-generation Tiguan Limited.
"We are checking the feasibility of a car which is right between T-Roc and Tiguan, and this could be interesting for America," Welsch said. Volkswagen plans for the new crossover to be less expensive than the higher-feature T-Roc, which will be diverted to South America instead.
"In the U.S., you have Tiguan long wheelbase, and the other [new] one is close to what we have here in Europe as the Tiguan SWB. It's a little bit smaller than that, about the size of the old Tiguan, but new and it's off the MQB. This is the idea behind it. In China, we will have this car next year, and we are thinking whether this could be a good idea for America and Russia."
"Let's be very clear: The T-Roc will not go to the U.S."
The new crossover will be part of a product surge that, Welsch admitted, would see SUVs make up a third of all Volkswagen models sold by 2020, with 19 models planned globally.
"The Americans see the Tiguan LWB and they say it (the unnamed SUV) is much smaller," Welsch said.
"Let's be very clear: The T-Roc will not go to the U.S. I don't believe it's too expensive, but it's because it's a very small car. They tell us people in the U.S. expect more size for that money. It is too small. We are going to have an SUV that is even smaller than a T-Roc [the T-Cross] and it will also not go to the U.S., but will go to South America. We have the new Polo and the T-Cross in Brazil, but for North America, this car is also too small."