VW shortens production cycle for refreshed Atlas


Volkswagen has shortened its traditional production run to refresh the large Atlas CUV, which has helped revive the automaker’s sales in the United States since its launch in 2017.

The Volkswagen Atlas 21, due in showrooms next spring, will hit the market with an all-new front and rear fascia, interior updates and additional powertrain options with all-wheel drive, said Hein Schafer, senior vice president of Volkswagen of America. -Product and strategy marketing.

The Atlas, which is being built at the 8-year-old VWoA factory in Chattanooga, TN, was designed specifically for the North American market, but competition is intense, especially from Asian brands such as Subaru, Honda. , Hyundai and Kia. Competition was the key factor in moving to a 3-year product cycle, Shafer admitted to a group of reporters.

The updated Atlas comes three years after the CUV first went on sale in the United States and is the first fruit of the strategy to introduce a three-year facelift, compared to the 4-year interval traditionally used by VW, says Shafer.

Changes to the Atlas 21 include new bumpers, grille, headlights and taillights. In addition, the new CUV measures almost 3 inches. (76 mm) longer than the original three-row and 5.7 inch version. (145mm) longer than the Atlas Cross Sport 2-row, also in dealerships next spring.

The exterior changes make the refreshed Atlas more expressive and daring, Schafer says. The available R-line version features black accented vents, a more aggressive bumper design, side cladding and optional 21 inches. wheels.

The Model 21 will come with new driver assistance features, including traffic jam assist and dynamic traffic sign detection. The 4Motion all-wheel drive system will be available with both 4-cylinder engines. and V-6 engines.

Inside, the Atlas features a new steering wheel design, available double-stitched leather seats and an 8-in. Infotainment system with touch screen (20 cm) on all models except the base model. Induction charging for smartphones is available.

Schafer said VWoA plans to go beyond the introductions of the refreshed Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport ’20 and expand its CUV lineup with models tailored to the specific needs of the US market. “Although Tiguan is our current volume seller, we see huge potential in offering a smaller compact CUV and will soon be launching another vehicle in this very competitive segment,” he said.

VWoA’s second small utility vehicle, due to appear in summer 2021, will be built in Puebla, Mexico, filling the production space created by the demise of the Beetle, Schafer said, adding that it will be sold in all of North America.

The surge in the commercial vehicle market has supported VWoA sales, which have grown 4.2% so far this year. The increase is centered on the growth of the CUV, Schafer says.

“As we approach last quarter, Volkswagen is the second fastest growing volume brand in America this year,” he said.

Thanks to the addition of the Atlas and the transformation of the second generation Tiguan (below, left), CUV sales account for 53% of VW’s volume, up from 47% in 2018. Commercial vehicles also represent the lion’s share of VW’s conquests and have increased the brand’s average transaction prices by $ 4,000.

In addition, success is built. In November, Atlas sales were up 48% from November 2018, with sales up 39.9% year-to-date. Tiguan’s sales last month were up 24% from November 2018 and are up 25% year-to-date.

Schafer says continued growth is expected with the introduction in 2020 of the Atlas Cross Sport, doubling the automaker’s midsize CUV offerings.

Schafer stresses that VWOA remains committed to the passenger car market, where it has a strong heritage and history. “While some brands have moved away from car sales, we are focused on making smart decisions in this segment which still represents a large part of the market,” he said.

“American consumers bought 5.4 million cars in 2018, and most were sedans. This is a major demand, and Volkswagen of America would rather not leave it unfulfilled, ”Schafer said.

VW’s first battery-electric vehicle, the ID.Crozz CUV, entered production last month in Zwickau, Germany, and will make its U.S. debut in the spring, giving VWoA an additional compact CUV, now the largest vehicle segment in the United States. for the EV to be built in Chattanooga from 2022 upon the completion of the plant expansion.

Schafer says new models and increased visibility of the brand “evolve” VW’s perception in the United States from a niche brand into a true mass automaker, laying the groundwork for VW to be seen as an innovator. world of electric vehicles.

The goal, he says, is “to make VW a complete, family-oriented automaker with competitive vehicles that put us at the heart of four of the top five segments in the United States.”

“With new marketing and product offerings, we plan to reinvigorate Volkswagen.”

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