Jürgen Stackmann, Volkswagen’s global head of sales, marketing and after sales, says the current, global SUV boom is, “the first time we’ve seen a global love affair with one body type”.
Speaking with CarsGuide at the Frankfurt motor show this week, Stackmann, a member of the board of management of Volkswagen Passenger cars, said the on-going sales phenomenon cut across price and size barriers, adding the reason SUVs are so popular is simple.
“People love to sit high because they feel safe. It’s just a great seating position to be in. SUV’s are functional. People hate dysfunctional cars, because they like their vehicle to be flexible. They’ve lost the stigma of burning too much fuel. They’re very expressive in design, so you can identify with it easily, and they have become affordable”, he said.
Stackmann was candid in admitting, “Volkswagen has been late in developing an exciting range of SUVs and CUVs”, but added the German giant is pulling out all stops to catch and lead the market.
The CX-3-rivalling T-Roc, set to launch in Europe in November, and other markets in 2018, is one of the highlights of this year’s Frankfurt extravaganza. Small enough to sit under the hugely successful Tiguan, with enough space for the T-Cross (and convertible T-Cross Breeze) in between, Stackmann confirms initial volume projections and production capacity have been increased three-fold, with the intention of launching the car in “many more markets” than originally planned.
Production capacity at VW’s Palmela plant in southern Portugal, has been ramped up, with annual T-Roc volume set to rise to “a little under 200,000” from an initial target of 70,000 units.
According to Stackmann, with the seven-seat Tiguan AllSpace, and an all-new Touareg due in 2018, and the full-size Atlas (USA) and Teramont (China) twins already in market, Volkswagen is also building its presence in the large SUV category.
On the question of whether what appears to be a world-wide SUV bubble will burst or grow into a more mature segment, Stackmann says, “If I really knew the answer I would just roll dice and be rich, but I don’t think there’s going to be a stop to the love affair. We are aiming to put a lot more emotion and lifestyle into our cars”.
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