SAN DIEGO -- Volkswagen will launch a 2+2 convertible in 2006 based on the Concept C show car.
Also on the drawing board, but not approved, are an SUV smaller and less expensive than the Touareg and a seven-seat SUV similar in size to next year's Audi Q7, says Len Hunt, vice president of Volkswagen of America Inc. Hunt was interviewed at a press event here.
The still-unnamed front-wheel-drive convertible will have a retractable folding hard top, similar to those on expensive roadsters such as the Mercedes-Benz SLK. General Motors is planning a retractable hard-top version of the Pontiac G6.
VW's car will be positioned between the upscale Phaeton and the mid-sized Passat sedan, Hunt says.
VW wants to sell the car in the $30,000 range in the United States. But final pricing is subject to the relationship between the dollar and the euro. Hunt says VW isn't likely to sell more than 15,000 of the convertibles annually in the United States.
The car will be smaller than the replacement Passat due this summer. In VW's modular system, it will draw components from both the Passat and 2005 Jetta compact that goes on sale Saturday, March 19, Hunt says.
The convertible will fill a void left by the Golf Cabrio, which went out of production in 2002, Hunt says. The only convertible in VW's lineup is the New Beetle. The Concept C vehicle was shown at the 2004 Geneva auto show.
The seven-seat SUV could appear in four or five years, Hunt says. "We need to look at the SUV market and make sure we have something different from the Touareg - smaller and bigger," he says.
Dealers are pushing hard for the seven-seat vehicle, especially since VW killed plans to roll out a North American successor to the Microbus, Hunt says. "You have to try and cover the market - even with sport-utilities," he says.
The larger SUV would not need all of the off-road capability of the Touareg, Hunt says. He says a smaller SUV the size of the Honda CR-V also would be appropriate for VW.
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