Volkswagen may not resume sales of diesel models in the U.S. and plans to focus on electrified powertrains and SUVs in the coming years, the company's head of North American operations told fleet managers on Sept. 15.
During the Volkswagen and Audi 2017 model-year preview, Hinrich Woebcken said the company hasn't ruled out selling diesel model in the future, following the diesel cheating scandal that has rocked the company in the past year.
"Diesel will not be back in the same magnitude as we have seen in the brand," Woebcken said. "We will look at it package by package. With the new technologies, there will be replacements for diesel."
Woebcken made the comments during a question-and-answer session with Automotive Fleet's editor Mike Antich during the two-day national fleet meeting.
Volkswagen is still working to finalize a settlement that's expected to be approved by federal judge Charles F. Breyer on Oct. 18. The company has been working with fleet management companies, individual commercial fleets and dealers how it will compensate owners of the vehicles powered by its 2.0L four-cylinder TDI engines.
Sales of the diesel-powered Passat mid-size sedans to fleets made up 65% of sales, while sales of diesel-powered Golf SportWagen cars made up 90% of sales, the company said.
Woebcken also said the company is ramping up to launch two new SUVs, including a yet-to-be-named three-row mid-size SUV that will be unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November and a long wheelbase version of the Tiguan. Both SUVs will have seating for seven.
The three-row SUV will be built at the company's Chattanooga assembly plant and will arrive as a 2018 model that will likely replace the Touareg luxury SUV. Production will begin in January and it will arrive in the summer. The long wheelbase Tiguan will arrive in the third quarter of 2017. It will be built in Puebla, Mexico.