- Volkswagen is working on a business plan to produce a seven-passenger crossover similar to its CrossBlue concept that debuted at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.
- Pricing is key for the Volkswagen CrossBlue to compete with the Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot.
- The new VW crossover likely would replace the Routan minivan.
DETROIT — Volkswagen is working on a business case to develop a seven-passenger crossover following the positive response by dealers and consumers to its CrossBlue concept that debuted at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.
Pricing is key for the Volkswagen CrossBlue to compete with the Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot, its chief rivals.
The new VW crossover likely would replace the Routan minivan.
"While Volkswagen would very much like to see a production version of the concept, it is very much dependent on bringing the vehicle to market at the right price to achieve sufficient volumes," a VW insider who asked not to be identified told Edmunds on Tuesday.
From the sounds of it, $30,000 appears to be the sweet spot for the production version of the CrossBlue concept. The base 2013 Honda Pilot starts at $30,350, including an $830 destination charge. The base 2013 Ford Explorer starts at $29,995, including an $895 destination charge.
The automaker is analyzing ways to reduce the cost of producing the CrossBlue, according to news reports out of Germany.
Speaking at the automaker's annual news conference last week in Germany, Michael Macht, a VW board member, said the cost currently is too high, but as the business case is further analyzed, the cost is expected to decline. No timetable was given for a decision.
Volkswagen unveiled the CrossBlue in January at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. Executives at that time said if produced the vehicle would be targeted at the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and other crossovers.
Although labeled a concept, the CrossBlue appeared to be nearly a production-ready prototype. Under the hood is a plug-in hybrid system that is assisted by a turbocharged diesel engine. It is unknown what other powertrains would be offered.
In contrast, most concepts are merely styling exercises created by a design studio that are lacking engineering refinement.
So far, response to the CrossBlue has been positive, the VW insider said. Consumers at the Detroit auto show liked the CrossBlue as well as Volkswagen dealers at last month's National Automobile Dealers Association meeting in Orlando, Florida.
The crossover likely would replace the Routan minivan, which is based on the Chrysler Town & Country minivan and assembled by the Chrysler Group.
The CrossBlue concept was developed on the automaker's new MQB front-drive vehicle platform. That platform will be used for a wide range of vehicles, ranging from the automaker's Polo, which is smaller than the Golf, to the next-generation Passat.
The crossover would be an important element in VW's plan to reach 800,000 annual U.S. sales by 2018. Last year it sold 615,000 vehicles.
In news reports, Macht said the crossover, if produced, would be assembled in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where VW assembles the Passat, or in Mexico, where VW assembles the Jetta and Beetle. Last year VW sold 117,000 Passats in the United States. Automotive analysts credit the Passat's sales success to the fact that it was engineered, contented and styled for the U.S. market.
Edmunds says: A nearly production-ready concept signals that a decision is near.