Coming out of his dizzy vision of the future in Geneva, Volkswagen made things come back to reality at the International Auto Show in New York with new concepts of SUVs and vans. But the fact that these are the kind of cars Americans are known to buy does not make them less extravagant. Both the Atlas Tanoak truck and its cousin SUV Cross Sport have LED plates, headlights and driving lights that flow through the cross bars of the grid. The effect is like something taken from Blade Runner.
Do not let the bright faces distract you from important specifications like the powertrain. The Cross Sport is powered by the same V6 engine of 276 horsepower and 3.6 liters as the Atlas of production, but the concept adds a pair of electric motors, one in front and the other behind. Volkswagen says the hybrid plug-in drivetrain delivers 355 horsepower and an anticipated 26-mile all-electric range. A conventional mild hybrid version of the same powertrain would produce 310 horsepower. A production version of the Cross Sport is scheduled to be released in the United States beginning in 2019.
26 miles of all-electric range
The Atlas Tanoak, meanwhile, has a similarly bright face, although VW warned that there are currently no plans to take the collection to production. (The automaker said the same for the recoil of the I.D. Buzz minibus, and is now expected to exit the assembly line by 2022). It's a mid-sized pick-up that will likely compete against new trucks like the Ford Ranger.
VW is clearly trying to quench the bottomless appetite of the United States for SUVs and crossovers, but there are other forces at play. The Dieselgate scandal continues to cast a long shadow over the German automaker's business, although it has been an inspiration for VW's renewed interest in electrified power trains. Several executives have gone to jail, and VW is on the hook of billions of dollars in liquidation.
But do not look at that, look around! A new SUV that will be presented in lots of dealers along with the ID. Crozz, a penetrating-looking electrical concept that is expected to go into production in 2020. The company is channeling cash towards line upgrades and brand rehab, but users will have to decide if it's worth saving.
Photo of Friso Gentsch / Volkswagen