Why VW is bringing a North America-specific crossover here, and not the T-Roc

Joel Stocksdale
Autoblog



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CHICAGO — In the U.S. two Volkswagen models make up more than half of the company's sales: the Atlas and the Tiguan. As such, it's no surprise the company is expanding its offerings, starting with the two-row Atlas Cross Sport. The company has also confirmed that it will bring a subcompact crossover to North America to slot beneath the Tiguan. While the European T-Roc would seem like the obvious choice, the company has also confirmed it will be a unique product specific to North America. To understand why, we talked with Volkswagen's Vice President of Marketing and Strategy, Hein Schafer during a roundtable with other reporters.

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Among the reasons Schafer gave for why VW is skipping the T-Roc for something else in America is that there isn't anymore capacity at the plant where the T-Roc is built. Europe is taking up all the demand. The upcoming crossover for us will be instead be built at the factory in Puebla, Mexico that has plenty of extra capacity since both the Beetle and Golf will no longer be built there.

There's also the cost. Importing a vehicle from Germany to the U.S. would add quite a bit of cost to it, and the T-Roc would be in a low-priced, low-margin segment. That importation expense would also stack on top of the cost to adapt and update the T-Roc to meet U.S. emissions and safety requirements. It just makes more sense to start with a new vehicle from scratch that can be built in Mexico where production and importation are more affordable.

Schafer further noted that starting from scratch means that this new VW crossover can be built with American preferences in mind from the start. Besides styling, he said that Americans have different tastes when it comes to things like ergonomics, size and even interior storage like bins and cupholders.

We won't have too long to wait to see this subcompact crossover, according to Schafer. It's slated to be shown at the end of this year and go on sale the following summer. While he couldn't confirm what the name would be, he hinted that it probably wouldn't be "Tarek" as previously indicated, at least in the U.S. He pointed out that the name is shared with a famous person so VW doesn't want to have their vehicle linked with anyone specific. The crossover will also be based on a version of the MQB architecture and will have available all-wheel drive.

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