Volkswagen Bringing New 'Volks-SUV' to United States, Asia

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

We were a little disappointed that Volkswagen decided to keep the T-Roc in Europe — not because we were clamoring for another subcompact crossover but because this one actually seemed sort of interesting. Its two-tone paint scheme and hinted specs seemed ready to take on the likes of the Jeep Renegade, Nissan Juke, and Fiat 500X. But VW said it wasn’t well-suited for the American market.

Although, there was no way the company could possibly leave the fast-growing segment alone and we assumed it would eventually come up with something else for the United States and Canada — which is exactly what happened. During a press conference in Wolfsburg, Germany, VW said it would export a new small crossover from Mexico into the U.S. but that the first run of the model will take place in China.

Referred to internally as the “Volks-SUV,” the vehicle should be a bit smaller than the recently upsized Tiguan but larger and less car-like than the European T-Roc.

“We call it internally Volks-SUV — the production car won’t have that name — because it turned from a regional project into a global project,” VW brand sales chief Juergen Stackmann explained during last week’s press conference. The global project kicks off in Asia, when the model enters production as part of VW’s joint venture with SAIC this August. By 2020, Volkswagen claimed assembly will have branched out to Mexico, Russia, and Argentina. According to Automotive News, VW executives said the model will avoid Europe entirely so that it doesn’t step on the T-Roc’s toes.

Like many automakers, Volkswagen has abandoned low-volume models to promote more practical autos that will sell well in China. In fact, the country is one of the primary reasons we see automakers pushing electric vehicles and ditching two-door derivatives. China likes sensible cars with a dash of opulence — either feigned or legitimate — and is mandating widespread electrification within its borders. Volkswagen has taken this to heart and intends to give the country what it wants while finding a way to keep the rest of the planet happy.

That will be important if VW CEO Herbert Diess intends for the Volks-SUV to reach its projected goal of 400,000 deliveries per year. China’s population is gargantuan but it probably can’t carry all of those sales by itself. Thankfully, crossovers are hot right now and Volkswagen is betting they will remain so for the foreseeable future. “In almost all regions we will almost double our SUV offerings by 2020,” Diess during the conference.

We don’t expect the new SUV to be all that different than the T-Roc internally. It’ll take on a more SUV-ish guise but will still use the firm’s MQB architecture, meaning base units are guaranteed to be front-wheel drive with a transverse four-banger.

[Image: Volkswagen]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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2 of 18 comments
  • Garrett Garrett on Mar 19, 2018

    VW Beetle shaped crossover?

  • Darex Darex on Mar 20, 2018

    This looks merely like a "rounded" T-Roc. Wouldn't it have been easier to simply sell the Q2 and T-Roc in North America, too? To have decided to sell neither one in North America just baffles the mind! Typical VAG b.s..

  • Teddyc73 As I asked earlier under another article, when did "segment" or "class" become "space"? Does using that term make one feel more sophisticated? If GM's products in other segments...I mean "space" is more profitable then sedans then why shouldn't they discontinue it.
  • Robert Absolutely!!! I hate SUV's , I like the better gas milage and better ride and better handling!! Can't take a SUV 55mph into a highway exit ramp! I can in my Malibu and there's more than enough room for 5 and trunk is plenty big enough for me!
  • Teddyc73 Since when did automakers or car companies become "OEM". Probably about the same time "segment" or "class" became "space". I wish there were more sedans. I would like an American sedan. However, as others have stated, if they don't sell in large enough quantities to be profitable the automakers...I mean, "OEMs" aren't going to build them. It's simple business.
  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.