Volkswagen has revealed it will soon offer a seven-seat SUV, but confirmation of a focus on the North American market means that Australian buyers are likely to miss out.
Announcing the news at this week's Detroit Motor Show, Volkswagen boss Dr Martin Winterkorn described the SUV as a new midsized model - although Australian classifications would likely see the car sold as a large SUV.
“I’m delighted to confirm what so many have been waiting so long to hear: Volkswagen’s mid-size SUV for America is on its way,” Winterkorn said.
Likely to be based on the long CrossBlue concept revealed early last year, the new seven-seater is scheduled to hit US and Canadian showrooms in 2016.
Volkswagen Australia confirmed its desires for a seven-seat SUV with TMR in 2013, but today's news will have put paid to those hopes. For now, at least.
The carmaker's local arm has confirmed again that it remains interested in the bigger SUV - a model that would sit alongside the five-seat Touareg SUV, possibly as a more affordable option - if a right-hand-drive option becomes available.
Volkswagen’s pricey Touareg SUV is limited to five seats, meaning that a more affordable CrossBlue would better tackle the successor to Ford's Territory, the Toyota Kluger, Holden Captiva 7, and the Hyundai Santa Fe/Kia Sorento twins.
The production CrossBlue's MQB platform, shared with much of the Volkswagen range, also means the decision to build right-hand drive versions will likely be based on sales potential and production capacity, rather than engineering concerns.
The South African market will also be key to demonstrating this sales potential, along with the also right-hand drive UK.
If a right-hook CrossBlue does score a green light for production, local sales would likely begin closer to the end of this decade, likely with an updated model.
US Sales Growth And Goals
Mr Winterkorn also reaffirmed the company's plans to sell more one million vehicles per year across the Volkswagen and Audi brands in the US by 2018, compared to 600,000 in 2013.
“As a Group we will be investing over seven billion dollars in North America over the next five years," Winterkorn said.
“We have set our goal: Volkswagen Group of America aims to sell one million Volkswagen and Audi cars per year in the US by 2018. We are taking up the challenge – with confidence, total commitment and the necessary staying power.”
In Australia, the Volkswagen brand sold 54,892 vehicles in 2013, while the Audi brand sold 16,009 vehicles. Volkswagen's 2013 result marked a 0.1 percent growth over 2012, while Audi's showroom performance was up 10.1 percent.