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2013 Detroit Auto Show: Volkswagen shows off CrossBlue plug-in diesel-electric hybrid concept

Volkswagen is getting ready for a pretty serious fight in the near future. VW’s desire to significantly increase US sales means that it needs a mid-sized SUV to slot in between the smaller Tiguan and the bigger Touareg. But this vehicle will be taking on the Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee, the heavy hitters of the segment. Huffington Post reports that these two vehicles sold 320,000 combined units in 2012, and everybody, Volkswagen included, expects the number of vehicles sold in the segment to continue increasing. So Volkswagen brought its CrossBlue concept to the Detroit Auto Show, one which is likely to be very similar to an upcoming mid-sized production SUV.

The styling of the CrossBlue is fairly conservative for a concept car, and this is a pretty good clue that we’re basically looking at a preview of a production car. That is, with the exception of the drivetrain. The CrossBlue is a plug-in diesel-electric hybrid with two electric motors and 14 miles of pure electric range. Volkswagen says it can also get 35mpg once the electric range runs out, and that the overall average is the equivalent of 89mpg. That’s all quite good, and you can safely assume that some form of hybrid drivetrain will find its way into the production version of the vehicle. Volkswagen will surely offer several different engine options, including gasoline and diesel, and since production is still probably at least two years away, it’s possible that the diesel-electric plug-in option could  make it to production, too.

Volkswagen will be building the car in the US, in a new facility next to the factory that builds the Passat. Since it hasn’t  actually built the factory yet, VW hasn’t set a price for the SUV, but it will almost certainly be less than the $44,000 Touareg.