Volkswagen to transform as SUV-specialists
Might exit the compact sedan segment soon
Adapt to survive — a common saying which you might usually hear in a Man vs Wild episode. Concerning our Indian auto industry, German carmaker Volkswagen seems to proceed with a similar mindset as well. We saw the carmaker develop the India-specific Ameo, specifically to stack up against the then-busy compact sedan segment. And now, they seem compelled and ready to dance to the SUV tunes.
From having just one SUV in its product line, Volkswagen announced their plans of launching as many as four new SUVs in the coming years. In an interview last year, Director of Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Steffen Knapp had declared, "We will transform Volkswagen into an SUV brand in India". And now, we might finally seem him execute it.
Representational Image || Concept version of the US-Spec 5-seater Atlas SUV
He went to state, "The first ones of these will be launched in the second quarter of next year (2020) and our smallest SUV, nicknamed A0 SUV, will be rolled out in 2021". While VW hasn't released any details for the A0 SUV, it is believed to be a sub-4m compact SUV, underpinned by the localised MQB-A0-IN platform. When launched, it is said to go up against the likes of Hyundai Venue, Maruti Vitara Brezza, Mahindra XUV300 and Ford Ecosport.
However, that won't be the very first vehicle to be underpinned by the local-made platform. Reports suggest VW is working on another SUV, expected to get slotted above the A0 SUV. Said to be based on the T-Cross available globally, this unnamed project will sport an all-new design along with a new nameplate. Although the segment already looks crowded after the arrival of the MG Hector and the Kia Seltos, the launch deadline of 2021 provides VW with sufficient time to brim up its first local-made SUV.
The other two SUVs expected to arrive on Indian shores this year are the VW Tiguan Allspace and the VW T-Roc. While the former is a 7-seater version of the Tiguan (only VW SUV sold in India), the latter is said to get placed beneath the Tiguan. In a statement issued by Knapp, he stated: "We will showcase our new brand philosophy and strategy for India 2.0 as well as three of our new SUV offerings at the Auto Expo 2020". While two of them will comprise of the Tiguan Allspace and the T-Roc, the third one is expected to be a concept iteration of the first India-specific SUV by the carmaker.
If SUVs are on the rise in the German carmaker's premises, the value of the compact sedan segment is deteriorating rapidly. Rumours suggest VW is looking to exit this segment very soon. In an interview last year, Gurpratap Boparai, head of Volkswagen Group India stated, "We will not do any products like the Ameo. The Sub-four metre sedan is a very, very tricky product. It works only when the hatch that it's based on, is significantly below four metres (in length), otherwise, the aesthetics of the car won't work".
VW's India 2.0 strategy seems to be up and running smoothly. The company recently inaugurated a new technology centre at its production facility, which is also responsible for the development of its India-specific MQB A0 IN platform. In the coming few years, I expect VW to stand tall. Pun intended.