One of the more practical concept cars to come out of Germany in recent years has been the Volkswagen CrossBlue concepts, specifically the plug-in SUV. The plug-in SUV offers an electric driving range of about 14 miles, and Volkswagen claimed 35 MPG combined gas mileage. That would make this mid-size SUV as efficient as many mid-size cars.
Volkswagen has approved production of a CrossBlue-based SUV at its Chattanooga, Tennessee production plant, which has been mired in a controversial union battle. The $900 million investment will bring some 2,000 jobs to the area, as well as a much-needed plug-in SUV to Vdub’s lineup.
The CrossBlue-inspired SUV will use the new Volkswagen MQB architecture, which is set to underpin much of the German brand’s lineup in the coming decade. This will give it a lot of powertrain options, from conventional gas and diesel engines, to the plug-in drivetrain of the concept, and possibly even an all-electric model to rival the Tesla Model X (though that will likely be reserved for Audi instead).
Volkswagen is also bringing a new National Research & Development and Planning Center of the Volkswagen Group of America to the areain an effort to better determine the wants and needs of U.S. customers. Volkswagen sales have doubled in the past four years, but their aging fleet of models is in dire need of upgrade, with sales down about 13% in the first half of 2014.
The CrossBlue SUV will offer a 7-passgenger SUV to American customers for the first time, and an efficient one at that without any current rivals. With the completely-redesigned 2015 Volkswagen Golf debuting the MQB architecture in America soon, the brand is hoping sales rebound in a big way as it continues on its quest to become the world’s largest automaker.
Production will take place in unused portions of the factory, and separately, the UAW is looking to form a local auto union, after the narrow defeat of a unionization effort earlier this year.