Volkswagen announced today that it plans to produce a production version of its CrossBlue utility vehicle concept at its U.S. plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The CrossBlue concept made its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in 2013.
The production model will fit into the mid-size CUV/SUV slot between VW's Tiguan and Touareg – a big hole in the existing lineup. It will offer up to seven-passenger seating – a feature not available in the other two models and a necessity to be competitive in a crowded and well-established segment dominated by Japanese and American brands.
Few other details were provided about the vehicle itself, apart from the fact that it has been developed specifically for the North American market. It is expected to be built on the VW Group’s versatile MQB platform, which suggests that the Passat, also built in Chattanooga, might also expect an update to that architecture in its next iteration.
The CrossBlue concept featured a plug-in hybrid powertrain but no mention was made of such availability in the production model. According to one source, it has been designed to accommodate the VW Group's line of four-cylinder engines.
Volkswagen says it will invest about $900-million (US) and add another 2,000 jobs to build the as yet unnamed new model. Production is scheduled to begin in late 2016.
In addition to expanded production capability, Chattanooga will also be home to a new National Research & Development and Planning Center for Volkswagen Group of America. Its stated purpose is to identify customers’ feedback in the market and to integrate it more expeditiously into existing and planned vehicle models.
"The Volkswagen brand is going on the attack again in America," said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, in Wolfsburg.