New 5-passenger Volkswagen SUV to be made in Chattanooga

Volkswagen Atlas 5_seater_front_1

And keeping with the NY theme, VW will show off a "concept" at this year's show.

The German carmaker describes the vehicle as a variant of the seven-passenger Atlas, designed and engineered for the American market.

The German automaker said the funds will go towards beefing up the Chattanooga, Tennessee plant to build additional Atlas sport utility vehicles geared towards the USA market.

The concept art of the concept version shows very large, prominent lower chin intake elements, a swoopier "floating" roofline, and a three-bar grille with smaller, more integrated headlights.

VW's plans to locate another model at the Chattanooga plant, its only USA factory, have been in the works for several years, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research.

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Volkswagen is expected to introduce a new version of the Passat next year, that would be built on the same MQB platform as the SUVs. Front-wheel drive is standard, with Volkwagen's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system available as an option. The optional 3.6-liter V-6 engine offers 276 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. Pricing starts just over $31,000.

"We are not only committed to this market, we are committed to our USA manufacturing home in Chattanooga, Tennessee", said Hinrich J. Woebcken, president and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. The Atlas went on sale a year ago.

Volkswagen will invest approximately $340 million to bring the vehicle to market, in addition to approximately $900 million already invested to expand the Chattanooga plant for Atlas production.

Whether or not it's the same size as a seven-passenger Atlas remains to be seen.

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