Volkswagen’s new mid-size SUV is progressing towards production.
The company’s Chattanooga factory has completed the first test body used to calibrate the SUV production line’s tooling and procedures.
To commemorate the occasion, the production facility’s staff took a picture with the completed metal bodywork.
VW has been tight lipped about its new SUV. The company has yet to release any detailed technical information on the US-built off-roader.
However, styling for the upcoming model is expected to be based on VW’s CrossBlue concept which debuted at the 2013 Detroit auto show.
The new SUV is expected to enter production by the end of the year and reach showrooms in early 2017.
This is welcomed news as the German automaker’s namesake brand continues to struggle mightily in a US market that craves SUVs.
For the year, Volkswagen’s US sales are down nearly 12%. The only bright spot in VWs portfolio is the compact Tiguan crossover which has seen its sales skyrocket 64% this year.
The current generation Tiguan has been around since 2008 is set to be replaced next year in the US market by a new second generation model.
The as yet unnamed mid-size SUV is one of four new crossovers VW is planning to introduce — to complement the Tiguan and Touareg — over the next few years.
This includes a sub-compact crossover and a compact model that will both slot in below the next generation Tiguan in the model hierarchy. The new mid-size crossover, built exclusively for the US and the China markets, will be positioned between the Tiguan and the Touareg.
The new Chattanooga-built SUV will allows VW to recast its capable, but slow-selling Touareg as a niche performance SUV. After all, lurking underneath the Touareg’s VW body is a Porsche developed SUV.
At the top of VW brand hierarchy will be the company’s flagship SUV based on the T-Prime Concept GTE introduced this month at the Beijing auto show.