2014 NAIAS: Volkswagen Confirms 7-Seat Plug-in Hybrid

On the first day of the 2014 North American International Motor Show in Detroit, Volkswagen has confirmed its plans to bring a CrossBlue-based, 7-seat plug-in SUV to production for U.S. customers by 2016.

VW says it will be bringing a CrossBlue-based plug-in to the market for 2016

VW says it will be bringing a CrossBlue-based plug-in to the market for 2016

The CrossBlue SUV concept, which debuted at last year’s show, was powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder TDI engine combined with two electric motors. A through-the-road hybrid, the CrossBlue offered around 14 miles of all-electric range via an 85 kilowatt motor driving the rear wheels and a 9.8 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. 

At the front meanwhile, a smaller, 40 kilowatt electric motor offered electric all-wheel drive capabilities when required, as well as the usual generator or boost fictionality common with through-the-road hybrids.  And while its predicted EPA ratings of 33 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 89 MPGe might seem bad on paper, it’s worth remembering that the CrossBlue was built to seat six. At the moment, there’s not a single seven-seat plug-in SUV available on the market.

In an exclusive press event last night to mark the start of NAIAS 2014, Volkswagen’s CEO Martin Winterkorn confirmed the seven-seat SUV would be coming to the U.S. some time in 2016.

Volkswagen has said the as-yet unnamed car will be pretty close in design and drivetrain technology to the CrossBlue Concept car from last year, meaning it’s likely to use the exact same diesel engine married with the all-electric drivetrain the Volkswagen group has developed for a range of new MQB-platform cars, including the Volkswagen e-Golf, Audi A3 sportback e-tron, and Audi Allroad Shooting Brake Concept.

While this seven-seat SUV is aimed at the U.S. market — something Volkswagen was happy to admit at to the press last night — european buyers should note that VW-owned Skoda has already said it will make its own variant of the CrossBlue for the European market, meaning a potential seven-seat plug-in SUV for European buyers too.

In both instances, it’s likely that both cars will be available in an ICE-only gasoline or diesel configuration, but of course, we’re most excited about the as-yet unnamed plugin variant because as yet, we’ve not seen the plug-in market cater for those who want a larger SUV that can also do the school run in EV only mode. Given how large the SUV market worldwide is, we think it’s an important market segment that has, until now, been mainly overlooked.

Details on fuel economy, price and specifications are yet to be made public. These are likely to come later this year or early next, along with an official model name.

Based on what we saw last year, would you like a plug-in seven-seat SUV from Volkswagen? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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