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Recession pulls reins on mid-engined VW

Affordable roadster from Volkswagen waits for better economic times

18 May 2009


VOLKSWAGEN’S mid-engined sportscar concept will not reach production in the current economic climate, according to senior company officials.

Revealed with great fanfare at the Detroit motor show in January, the Concept BlueSport convertible would have been a direct rival for Mazda’s iconic – and affordable – MX-5 roadster.

“The state we are at right now regarding Concept BlueSport is we are carefully calculating how to earn money with a niche car,” said Volkswagen AG product communications manager Christian Haacke.

“It is a niche product and especially in crisis times like this it will be a challenge to come up with a volume we could require to earn money with it.” Volkswagen Group sales bucked the trend last year to be just 4.8 per cent down worldwide in a global automotive market that declined by 21 per cent year-on-year.

The compact two-seater convertible, which was billed as the sportscar that offers the most driving fun with the least fuel consumption, featured a mid-mounted, common-rail 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine that delivered 132kW and 350Nm of torque to its 19-inch rear wheels.

3 center imageThe 3990mm long roadster, which was said to weigh less than 1200kg with a front/rear distribution of 45/55 per cent, was claimed to offer 0-100km/h acceleration in 6.6 seconds and a 226km/h top speed.

Thanks to idle-stop and brake energy regeneration systems, however, it was claimed to return as little as 4.3L/100km and CO2 emissions of 113g/km, setting new efficiency standards for a sportscar.

The silver concept features an orange-coloured soft-top that weighed a best-in-class 27kg and an aluminium bonnet and boot that accommodated a total of 182 litres of cargo space – enough to stow luggage for a theoretical touring range of 1150km.

But now it appears to be a victim of the global financial crisis as Volkswagen struggles to make a business case for sub-Scirocco two-door.

“Detroit has shown you that it easy to come out with a tempting concept but the second challenge about it is to earn money with it,” said Mr Haacke.

“That is what we are facing right now, internally of course, and I am sure we will let you know when we’ve advanced in the process of facing the second challenge ... of finishing it.

“With our nine brands I think we have an excellent starting situation to reach this zone of earning money also with a niche product like that.

“Personally I’d be more than looking forward to welcoming you all to a presentation of a car like that, especially since there is nobody else with a mid-engined sportscar in the price range like that.

“The idea of a small two-seater sportscar has been around for a really long time and I hope that the Concept BlueSport will finally make it through the calculators.”

Read more:

Detroit show: VW roadster nears production

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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