VW to bring CrossBlue-based SUV to U.S. in 2016

VW says the final product will be almost identical to the CrossBlue concept from last year's Detroit auto show. Photo credit: VW

DETROIT -- Volkswagen's U.S. executives and dealers are getting the vehicle they have been clamoring for.

Volkswagen AG has given the green light to a mid-sized SUV based on its year-old CrossBlue concept, and plans to start selling the SUV in the United States in 2016.

At a reception in Detroit Sunday night, top Volkswagen executives announced the decision on the SUV, which has been tailored to the American market and is seen by VW executives and dealers as key to the brand's U.S. growth strategy.

A company spokesman said the final product will be almost identical to the CrossBlue concept from last year's Detroit auto show. The seven-seat SUV was modeled after popular models like the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander.

"It is that car," Volkswagen of America spokesman Scott Vazin said. "The basic design [of the concept] is exactly what you'd see coming to market."

Despite news reports saying that Volkswagen would rather build the SUV at its plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., than in Mexico, the company has not announced where the SUV will be built. Vazin said that decision has not yet been made.

The Chattanooga plant went online in 2011, building the Passat sedan. Volkswagen's top U.S. executives have submitted a proposal to expand its capacity to 250,000 units from 150,000 units to accommodate a new SUV.

Also tonight, on the eve of the North American International Auto Show, Volkswagen said it would invest an additional $7 billion in North America from 2014 through 2018, on top of a three-year, $5 billion investment that the automaker announced last year.

You can reach Gabe Nelson at gnelson@crain.com



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