Thursday, January 17, 2008

2008 Chicago Auto Show Preview: Volkswagen Routan Just for U.S.

Volkswagen will introduce a new U.S.-aimed minivan, the Routan, at the Chicago auto show. Its name links it spiritually to the Euro-centric Sharan (top) and Touran (below). (Photo courtesy of Volkswagen of America, Inc.)

Volkswagen Touran. (Photo courtesy of Volkswagen of America, Inc.)

WOLFSBURG, Germany — Volkswagen has announced that it will unveil its new minivan, the Routan, at the Chicago auto show in February. VW says the Routan, jointly developed with Chrysler, is intended "especially for the U.S. market."

The name "Routan" is intended to connect the new model to VW's European vans, the Touran and Sharan, while containing what the German automaker calls an English word: "route." The minivan will be built at Chrysler's Windsor, Ontario, assembly plant. Although it was designed with Chrysler, VW says the look both inside and out "of course" is in line with its own "clear design concept."

The seven-passenger minivan is about 197 inches in length and is intended to be "splendidly adapted" to U.S. minivan drivers' needs in terms of space and functionality, VW says. Images and full specs were not released.

Volkswagen is targeting sales of 800,000 vehicles in the U.S. market by 2018, in part by introducing such new U.S.-tailored vehicles as this one and the Passat CC, which made its debut this week at the Detroit auto show.

What this means to you: We're not expecting the second coming of the Microbus, but this will be a new product for soccer moms to await with interest. — Laura Sky Brown, Correspondent

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