Monday, September 1, 2014 · 3:33 a.m.

VW leaders unveil concept for midsized, hybrid SUV

Local leaders want the SUV to be made in Chattanooga

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Leaders unveiled the concept, called CrossBlue, for a new Volkswagen SUV designed for the North American market. (Photo: Contributed)

Volkswagen leaders unveiled the concept for a midsized, hybrid SUV designed specifically for the North American market Monday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. 

The six-seater vehicle is called CrossBlue. 

Click here for more images of the new concept. 

More features, fast facts 

—The concept is for the vehicle to be 196.3 inches long, 79.3 inches wide and 68.2 inches high. 

—It has a wide front and rear tracks of 66.4 and 66.8 inches respectively, 21-inch aluminum-alloy wheels shod with 235/45 tires and significantly flared wheel arches. 

—A team led by Marc Lichte (senior designer, Volkswagen Brand) designed the concept.

—It features a prominent, long hood that integrates the engine’s air intakes, a roofline that is also long and a short frontal overhang. 

—The CrossBlue has two “fuel doors," the filler neck for the diesel tank on the passenger side and two electrical sockets behind the door on the driver’s side. The first socket is used to charge the lithium-ion battery, and the second can be used to connect electrical devices such as coolers or camping lights. In this case, the CrossBlue acts as an auxiliary electrical generator.

“The CrossBlue concept is exactly the right type of vehicle for the U.S. market,” Jonathan Browning, president and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, said in a prepared statement. “It combines a truly versatile interior layout with sophisticated Volkswagen design to give a unique and supremely stylish offering in this segment. Moreover, the vehicle showcases our innovative German powertrain engineering and the bandwidth of the new MQB architecture.” 

Leaders haven't said where the vehicle may be produced, but Chattanooga leaders attended the Detroit auto show to let VW officials know that they want it to be made in the Scenic City. 

Volkswagen leaders have recently said that work at the Volkswagen site is no indication that another product will be made there soon. 

But, last May, Volkswagen Chattanooga CEO Frank Fischer said he wants to see a midsized SUV made in Chattanooga, although he said he didn't know what the chances are that it will happen.

At that time, Don Jackson, former president of VW manufacturing, also said the plant has the flexibility to expand.

Ron Harr, president of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said he would love to see the new SUV made in Chattanooga and that there is room for more production here. He also said that the manufacture of another car would help draw in more auto suppliers.

All of that would mean more jobs for the area, he said.

The CrossBlue is a plug-in hybrid that combines a TDI clean diesel engine with two electric motors. It has a dual-clutch automatic transmission and an electric all-wheel drive system. 

The vehicle can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in about 7.2 seconds. 

It has both a manual and automatic zero emissions mode. Using its lithium-ion battery, the CrossBlue can travel 14 miles in all-electric mode.

It can go 661 miles if the 18.5-gallon tank is filled with ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel. 

The CrossBlue’s default mode is as a classic hybrid, officials said.

The electric motor is used for propulsive power as often as possible, but the driver can also switch to “eco” or “sport” modes by pressing a button to the right of the shift lever.

To ensure optimal driving range, designers reduced the vehicle's top speed from 127 mph to 75 mph. 

The SUV has six individual seats in three rows and 12 airbags. If the vehicle goes to production, there is an option to make the second row have three seats, which would make it a full seven-seater vehicle. 

VW officials said it is spacious and that the design combines "the clean lines of German Volkswagen design DNA with the masculine character of an American SUV."

Updated @ 6.12 a.m. on 1/15/13 to remove the word "smaller," as the story originally reported that this car would be.

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