Volkswagen's Short-term Crossover Plan: Get Asses In Seats By Removing Seats

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
volkswagen s short term crossover plan get asses in seats by removing seats

The first salvo in Volkswagen’s battle to win the hearts and cash of the American populace arrived in the form of two crossovers: the new full-size Atlas and the vastly updated (and enlarged) second-generation Tiguan.

Both models sport three rows of seating, a key strategy for expanding the brand’s sales volume and appeal. Phase Two of the company’s U.S. campaign, however, involves ripping those seats out.

Speaking to Automotive News, Hinrich Woebcken, CEO of Volkswagen’s North American region, said the company plans to offer two-row versions of both models. By splitting both models into two flavors, the automaker hopes to spread a larger sales net in both segments.

“We decided the Atlas will get a slightly lower-positioned five-seater, with nice, coupe-ish styling, [but the] same dimensions,” Woebcken said. Diversifying the Atlas range is something the automaker’s chief technology officer, Matthias Erb, hinted at last year.

The new Tiguan, sporting a wheelbase nearly 11 inches longer than its predecessor, is the long-wheelbase “Allspace” version sold in Europe alongside a shorter twin. Below it, the first-gen Tiguan remains on the company’s U.S. roster as a lower-priced entry-level model. With those rearmost seats gone, expect the larger model to “get kind of a little smaller,” Woebcken claims.

Yes, we’re talking about three Tiguans, though it’s possible the old Tiguan Limited will be a thing of the past by the time the two-row revolution hits. VW tossed an eight-speed automatic into the Limited’s toolkit for 2018 in a bid to keep the model somewhat fresh.

Though Woebcken couldn’t say when exactly we’ll see either the two-row Atlas or slightly smaller Tiguan, earlier this year he claimed 2019 would, like 2017, be an SUV-focused year. A 2020 model, perhaps? The emergence of the two-row Tiguan as a future model potentially sheds light on an earlier claim that the company has a “better idea than the [overseas-only T-Roc] for North America.” Has the automaker decided a new standalone compact model just isn’t worth it in the American market?

Improving U.S. profitability is the company’s top goal, so such a move would make sense. Atlas sales rose to a new monthly high in November, while Tiguan sales, bolstered by the choice of two body sizes, reached a record 6,947 units last month. The model’s on track for its best sales year to date in 2017.

[Images: Volkswagen]

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2 of 13 comments
  • La834 La834 on Dec 26, 2017

    There already is a 2-seat version of the new, extended-length Tiguan, as long as you buy one with AWD. For reasons unclear to me, the (uselessly tiny) 3rd row seat is mandatory on FWD models. It now only steals luggage space when folded down compared to a two-row new Tiguan, but also stops the second row seat from sliding as far back.

  • CombiCoupe99 CombiCoupe99 on Dec 27, 2017

    If I were VW, I would quickly issue a cease and desist on that title picture. Is VW trying to evoke the spirit of the 80s in these homely designs? Absolutely awful!

  • Bd2 Other way around.Giorgetto Giugiaro penned the Pony Coupe during the early 1970s and later used its wedge shape as the basis for the M1 and then the DMC-12.The 3G Supra was just one of many Japanese coupes to adopt the wedge shape (actually was one of the later ones).The Mitsubishi Starion, Nissan 300ZX, etc.
  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old '56 Chevys eventually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)
  • AMcA Phoenix. Awful. The roads are huge and wide, with dedicated lanes for turning, always. Requires no attention to what you're doing. The roads are idiot proofed, so all the idiots drive - they have no choice, because everything is so spread out.