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VW waits on CrossBlue decision for Oz

Lucky seven: The Volkswagen CrossBlue concept emerged in Detroit last January.

Volkswagen Australia goes into bat for new seven-seat crossover wagon next week

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Volkswagen logo30 Jan 2013

By RON HAMMERTON

VOLKSWAGEN’S Australian hierarchy might know as soon as next week if it will be able to get its hands on VW’s new seven-seat crossover wagon for this market.

Previewed as the CrossBlue concept SUV at the recent Detroit motor show, the big family mover is on the agenda for discussion at a product planning meeting to be attended by Volkswagen Group Australia managing director Anke Koeckler in Germany next week.

She told GoAuto today that her company still wanted the vehicle for Australian sale, but that she had yet to hear if it would be built in right-hand drive and available for this market.

“We leave for a meeting at the weekend, and we will be discussing our future model program there, so we might know more then,” she said.

However, with production plans still publicly unconfirmed by VW headquarters in Wolfsburg, an announcement is unlikely to be made on any Australian debut until much closer to the expected 2015 international launch date.

Ms Koeckler has made it clear she would like to add the large vehicle – which is likely to get another name when it hits the North American market in about 2015 – to the local line up where it would provide a bigger alternative to the Golf-based Tiguan and more affordable alternative to the Touareg 4x4 that starts at $62,990 (plus on-roads).

The production version of CrossBlue is expected to be produced at VW’s Tennessee plant in the United States, although its flexible architecture could mean it might be built elsewhere too, such as China.

The CrossBlue reportedly is based on a variation of VW’s new MQB platform that has already spawned the new-generation Golf due in Australia in April, as well as the new Audi A3 and upcoming Skoda Octavia.

The concept is a hybrid, with a four-cylinder transverse diesel engine driving the front wheels and the rear wheels driven by electric power, similar in concept to hybrid vehicles coming by Peugeot and Mitsubishi.

However, Volkswagen Australia prefers pure diesels on cost grounds in this market where diesel SUVs have found favour in recent years, and would likely chose one of those should it become available.

If Volkswagen does ship the new wagon to Australia from North America, it is likely to be in good company, with Mercedes-Benz and BMW already doing so, and Toyota, Nissan and Audi likely to follow suit with the next generations of the Kluger, Pathfinder and Q5.

Volkswagen has already grabbed 10 per cent of the small SUV market with its Golf-based Tiguan, while the big Touareg has 10 per cent of the luxury SUV segment above $70,000.

The CrossBlue would give VW a new string to its bow in the large SUV market below $70k, where its only contender is the new Passat Alltrack.

The large SUV market – led by the Toyota Kluger and Australian-made Ford Territory – grew 20 per cent last year, double the rate of the market in general.

Volkswagen Australia will extend its Touareg range with the addition of a new flagship, the V8 diesel TDI R-Line, from March.

Ms Koeckler said VW already had a waiting list of customers for the new model, even though pricing is yet to be announced.

The Touareg R-Line shares its 250kW/800Nm diesel engine with the Porsche Cayenne S Diesel, and can sprint from zero to 100km/h in 5.8 seconds.

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