Volkswagen will debut a brand new sport-utility concept vehicle in the United States next month, designed to increase its range in the crossover segment and boost sales.
Company sales have been down in the world's second-biggest car market, though the new five-seat variant of the seven-passenger SUV the German carmaker aims to build at its U.S. plant in Tennessee is getting a lot of early buzz.
The car should hit production in 2016 and reach dealerships around the U.S. later that year or in early 2017. VW is expected to debut the concept during the Detroit auto show on Jan. 12-13, two sources said to Reuters on Monday on "condition of anonymity" since details of the vehicle have not been officially released yet.
A concept vehicle is VW's latest effort to plug gaps in a U.S. line-up that features just two SUVs, the Tiguan and Touareg, currently.
The automaker has spent too much time focusing on vehicles like the Golf hatchback and Jetta compact saloon, which has held the company back in the U.S. where its rivals offer a wide range of SUV crossover vehicles.
U.S. VW sales were down 11 percent during the January to November period, at 333,000 vehicles.
"We need more models there. If we had a pick-up truck today, we would perhaps already be at 600,000 (vehicle sales)," said Bernd Osterloh, VW's top labor representative and a member of the carmaker's panel shaping U.S. strategy, in an interview this month with Reuters.
In an effort to more than double sales to 800,000 vehicles by 2018, Europe's largest automaker has plans to spend at least $7 billion in North America to give its rivals something to worry about for a change.
The Tiguan will be redesigned next year and a coupe-style option will be available as well as a long-wheelbase model that could offer a petrol-electric hybrid version.