(Images: Volkswagen of America)
Describing it as a “social utility vehicle”—something that will get connected people out into the world—Scott Keogh, Volkswagen of America CEO, announced the 2020 Atlas Cross Sport at the company’s factory in Chattanooga, TN, where the two-row SUV (as in “sport utility vehicle,” as well) will be produced along with its sibling Atlas (the three-row seven-seater) and the Passat sedan.
Volkswagen invested $340-million to the factory to add Cross Sport capacity.
The Cross Sport, which is based on the MQB platform, which also underpins the Atlas, has the same 117.3-inch wheelbase, but is 2.8 inches shorter (at 195.5 inches) and 2.3 inches lower (at 67.7 inches). It is 78.3 inches wide.
Keogh suggested that one of the primary characteristics of the new vehicle is the exterior design, using words including “expressive, sporty and bold.” And as he spoke to many of the 3,800 people who work at the Chattanooga plant, he added, admitting that it might be a bit profane: “It is a little bit bad ass—an American SUV.” The applause was strong—to say the least.
To that point, Mike Lovati, Vice President, Product Line Mid-/Full-size at Volkswagen Group of America, said that the Cross Sport is a consequence of the global company’s regionalization process. Planning for the vehicle was done in the U.S. and much of the development engineering work were done in North America, with some 800 to 1,000 engineers based in the company’s facilities in Mexico working on the project. There were “bits and pieces” done in Wolfsburg, but the overall development was low.
Two of the competiors for the Cross Sport that Keogh cited were the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Ford Edge. Asked why customers might prefer the Cross Sport over vehicles like those, Hein Schafer, senior vice president, Product Marketing and Strategy for Volkswagen of America, suggested there is the design, which has a falling roofline toward the rear and a sharp C-pillar, as well as the overall size and capacity of the vehicle: it provides 111.8 cubic feet of passenger space; 40.3 cubic feet of luggage space behind the second row and 77.8 cubic feet with the second row folded.
What’s more, he noted, “There is excellent fit and finish—and the ‘thunk’ of the Volkswagen door.”
The vehicle will be fitted with either a 276-hp V6 or a 235-hp turbocharged, direct injected four. Both are mated to an eight-speed automatic, and both are available with all-wheel-drive (4Motion).
It almost goes without saying that they’re emphasizing tech in the new vehicle, with forward collision warning with autonomous braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear traffic alert standard on the base model, and a lots more tech (e.g., traffic jam assist; dynamic road sign display) added as one makes the trim walk.
Keogh said that a full 52% of VW sales in the U.S. are SUVs—a figure that was just 14% in 2016.
What’s more with Atlas they’ve achieved an 84% conquest rate.
They’re hoping for more of the same with the Cross Sport.
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