Volkswagen Considering a Rough-and-tumble Electric

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

The sky’s apparently the limit when it comes to the variety of vehicles that might emerge from Volkswagen’s dedicated MEB electric architecture. While the automaker’s looming EV onslaught already contains a hatchback, crossover, microbus, panel van, and possible luxury sedan, VW feels something’s missing: a tough, off-road ute.

One VW exec is pushing hard to give electric vehicles a brawnier image.

In a sit-down with Auto Bild (via Auto Express), VW strategy boss Michael Jost said the MEB platform could give Volkswagen a first-in-segment coup — a spartan, zero-emission trail denizen.

“There are no producers in this sector yet, [building] a robust electric car that loves scratches and wears them as a badge of honour,” Jost said, adding that he’s championing the project internally. Jost’s candid convo with Auto Bild is part of his strategy; he plans to use the publication’s readers as a focus group to measure public interest. The executive even provided sketches of a boxy, upright utility vehicle that eschews the egg shape of other VW I.D. models.

Jost said he’s aiming for a simple design, both inside and out. Rather than having the vehicle adopt a few off-road cues to please timid, grocery-getting consumers, the exec stated the vehicle would come ready for action with scratch-proof display covers and an interior designed for cleaning via pressure washer.

In the course of the discussion, Jost aired another article of VW’s product laundry. A flagship SUV based on the MEB platform is under development, and the would-be off-roader would draw its underpinnings from this model — in two wheelbase lengths. If that sounds like something Land Rover might slap a Range Rover name on, well, that’s the idea. Jost said the off-roader would boast a three-door and five-door variant in wheelbases of 177 and 191 inches, offering space to five or seven occupants. The dual-motor/all-wheel drive setup seen in other I.D. models would attain its maximum usefulness in this model. Range? Like other I.D. models, the ceiling on that stands at 373 miles on the European test cycle.

As there’s already a number of vehicles coming down the pipe, VW’s proposed off-roader would need to wait its turn. That means, if VW pulls the trigger, the brawny ute wouldn’t make its appearance until at least 2021.

[Image: Volkswagen]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • TDIandThen.... TDIandThen.... on Jan 11, 2019

    I am a former VW customer and would go back for the R, or get excited for a Defender replacement which could be pressure-washed inside and doesn't have screens and tech all over. There must be hell, threes of me.

  • Vulpine Vulpine on Jan 11, 2019

    At least a couple BEV pickup trucks stand to beat VW to the punch on off-roading. Though if it's a BEV rig meant to compete with the Jeep Wrangler, they might have a chance.

  • Zipper69 Current radio ads blare "your local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer" and the facias read the same. Is the honeymoon with FIAT over now the 500 and big 500 have stopped selling?
  • Kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh hmmm get rid of the garbage engine in my chevy, and the garbage under class action lawsuit transmission? sounds good to me
  • ToolGuy Personally I have no idea what anyone in this video is talking about, perhaps someone can explain it to me.
  • ToolGuy Friendly reminder of two indisputable facts: A) Winners buy new vehicles (only losers buy used), and B) New vehicle buyers are geniuses (their vehicle choices prove it):
  • Groza George Stellantis live off the back of cheap V8 cars with old technology and suffers from lack of new product development. Now that regulations killed this market, they have to ditch the outdated overhead.They are not ready to face the tsunami of cheap Chinese EVs or ready to even go hybrid and will be left in the dust. I expect most of their US offerings to be made in Mexico in the future for good tariff protection and lower costs of labor instead of overpriced and inflexible union labor.