Volkswagen has said before that it is looking to shake things up a bit for the North American market. While that has meant that for some inexplicable reason Americans must endure an inferior version of the Passat, it also means that the company will be making a midsize, three-row SUV. Sport utilities are hot once more in the U.S. market, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the German automaker is taking advantage of that trend.
Considering that sales of the Touareg have been rather slow in this part of the world, VW is in need of a new hit. The upcoming model will be larger than the Touareg and offer three rows of seating. The only other modern VW that has offered such seating capacity has been the Routan minivan, which was really just a badge-engineered Chrysler Town & Country.
The new SUV will be built at the Chattanooga, Tennessee plant. Interestingly enough, the facility was the one at the center of controversy recently as workers voted not to unionize. Some have gone so far as to state that the decision to not bring in the union helped contribute to VW’s decision to make the new mode there. Production of the SUV will create 2,000 jobs in the United States and will pump in an additional $600 million to the state, according to the automaker.
Also announced by VW is the establishment of a new National Research & Development and Planning Center at the Chattanooga plant. The center will gather feedback from consumers in the region and incorporate at least some of that feedback into the design of refreshed and new models in the future. The idea is to offer features and designs that appeal to American tastes and preferences. Hopefully, that means the Passat can be tweaked back to a tolerable state.