The journey Volkswagen’s uber-American midsize crossover took in between CrossBlue notion and Atlas production model was a lengthy 1, but it isn’t more than.
Even though production begins next month in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the model designed in the hopes of tapping America’s utility automobile addiction leaves many queries about its future unanswered.
Speaking to Wards Auto, Matthias Erb, chief engineering officer for VW in North America and head of its Chattanooga engineering center, implies that obtaining the model to customers in any form was Job No. 1 for the struggling automaker.
Sporting three rows and styling that can only be described as generic, the Atlas is the vanguard of VW’s SUV-heavy push into the U.S. marketplace. The automaker is counting on the Atlas and future utility models to reclaim sales ground lost due to the diesel emissions scandal. There’s also that pesky issue of buyers shunning cars — VW’s standard sales territory — in increasing numbers.
The Atlas closes “the largest gap” in the automaker’s lineup, Erb told Wards Auto.
It was long rumored that the model would come in a plug-in hybrid version, but that plan is not set in stone. Erb claims the firm hasn’t however decided if a heavily electrified version ought to join the Atlas range.
“This is a issue we are nonetheless discussing, Erb stated. “At the moment, the plug-in is not so extremely desirable to us since of the upstream emissions (greenhouse gasses made in the generation of electricity).”
He added, “We genuinely don’t know how desirable these automobiles are anymore because the CO2 balance is not considerably better than the balance of (standard) hybrid autos.”
A plug-in is still attainable, but so is a conventional hybrid, he stated. As well, VW is open to letting other models carry the hybrid burden, even although Erb admits there’s clients willing to pay a premium for the technologies.
“This is open,” he mentioned. “We have a particular strategy, and I cannot actually talk about that, but we’re still thinking about where (in the model lineup) to electrify and where not to electrify so significantly.”
The automaker has a variety of hybrids and battery electric automobiles planned as part of its 2025 item method. Development carries a steep cost tag, and the Atlas sits at the core of VW’s fundraising efforts.
Provided initially in a seven-seat configuration to battle the likes of the Ford Explorer and other mid-sizers, a far more stripped-down Atlas variant could be on the way.
“If you appear into the SUV segment, you can see that it is type of separated into two parts, 7-seaters and five-seaters, and in our opinion it would make perfect sense to also offer you a five-seater,” Erb stated. It is feasible that the Atlas could sport two wheelbase lengths in the future, he added.
[Image: © 2016 Seth Parks/The Truth About Automobiles]