VW to unveil concept crossover intended to boost U.S. sales

Mon Dec 8, 2014 10:29am EST
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By Andreas Cremer

BERLIN (Reuters) - Volkswagen will present a sport-utility concept vehicle in the United States next month, intended to increase its range in the lucrative crossover segment and boost sales in the world's second-biggest car market, company sources said.

A five-seat variant of the seven-passenger SUV the German carmaker aims to build at its U.S. plant in Tennessee in 2016 will be unveiled at the Detroit auto show on Jan. 12-13, two sources said on Monday on condition of anonymity because details of the proposed model have not been released.

The concept vehicle, which the sources said is likely to be approved for production by 2016-17, is the latest part of VW's plan to plug gaps in a U.S. line-up that offers only two SUVs, the Tiguan and Touareg.

VW's focus on smaller vehicles, such as the Golf hatchback and the Jetta compact saloon, has held it back in the United States, where rivals offer a wider range of SUV crossovers.

The company would only say that a concept SUV will be shown in Detroit, without providing further detail.

U.S. sales of the VW brand were down 11 percent in the January to November period at 333,000 vehicles.

Bernd Osterloh, VW's top labor representative and a member of the carmaker's panel shaping U.S. strategy, acknowledged in an interview this month that the brand is not yet represented in the growing segments of the U.S. market.

"We need more models there ... If we had a pick-up truck today, we would perhaps already be at 600,000 (vehicle sales)."   Continued...

The VolksWagen logo is seen on their XL 1 car during the media day at the Paris Mondial de l'Automobile, October 3, 2014.  REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen