Volkswagen announced this week that it will unveil a new compact SUV concept at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show next month.
The car may foreshadow an affordable crossover or SUV from the German automaker.
“The concept car can be seen as the beginning of a broad SUV offensive,” VW wrote in a statement.
If it does translate to a production variant, it would likely slot in under the upcoming next generation Tiguan or become part of a Tiguan “family” of models.
For anyone who has been paying attention to VW’s turbulent history in the US over the past few years, this is definitely a step in the right direction – even if it’s a little bit late.
Volkswagen is having a tough time selling cars in the US. It has struggled for the past decade to increase its market share here in spite of massive investments in manufacturing, marketing, and design aimed at US consumers.
At the beginning of the decade, Volkswagen announced its goal to sell 800,000 cars in the US by 2018. In the time since, the company has had great difficulty selling half as many.
That was before Volkswagen’s massive emissions-cheating scandal erupted in September. The scandal not only alienated what few devoted owners the brand had left in this country, but also shut down VW’s popular TDI diesel cars, which accounted for 20% of the company’s annual sales.
Volkswagen closed out 2015 with 349,440 cars sold, which accounts for around 2% of the 17.4 million-vehicle US market.
So far in 2016, the company has continued on a similar pace.
Apart from the needs to regain the trust of consumers and fix the 500,000 cars affected by the scandal, VW has long been plagued by an inadequate product mix.
Specifically, it doesn’t have anything competitive to offer in the popular compact crossover/SUV market. In 2015, this segment accounted for 14% of all cars sold in the US while growing at a rate of 21% annually.
Volkswagen’s current generation Tiguan has proven to be wildly unpopular with American consumers. The current Tiguan is simply too expensive and inefficient compared with segment leaders such as the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.
That’s translated to poor sales. In 2015, the Tiguan held just 1.5% of segment with a little under 36,000 cars sold. That pales in comparison to the more than 300,000 compact crossovers Honda, Toyota, and Ford each sold last year.
Now, VW’s “broad SUV offensive” could offer a promising solution to the company’s US sales woes.
The next generation Tiguan, unveiled in September, is the first volley – built on VW’s highly praised MQB platform, which also underpins the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Passat models. This is a good start.
Further, VW has indicated that it will introduce a larger midsize SUV to complement the current poor-selling Touareg SUV.
VW’s new generation of crossovers and SUVs will likely provide the brand with more competitive offerings. Whether they will be able to dethrone the current SUV kings remains to be seen.
The Tiguan and the upcoming midsize SUV are expected to arrive in the US in 2017.