Can this massive SUV really do well in Europe?
Volkswagen is betting a lot on the Atlas, its new SUV designed for the United States. The automaker has been mum on its plans to campaign the Atlas elsewhere, but thanks to Autocar we know it's considering the idea. VW's head of full-size product lines, Elmar-Marius Licharz, revealed that the Atlas could launch in Europe (among other locales). "We are thinking about Europe. For most regions the Touareg is the right car, but there are certainly markets like Russia and the Middle East where we see the Atlas could be popular," Licharz told Autocar.
On paper it makes sense for Volkswagen to bring the Atlas to Europe. Why not make some more cash in secondary markets? The issue is that Europeans aren't exactly known for their love of big and boxy SUVs. That's more of an American thing, and VW knows this. "The Atlas is quite big, so we need to evaluate the likely demand - it might even be too big to fit in many European garages," Licharz warned. "But clearly there are some markets in Europe where it would make sense, and there is spare capacity at the Chattanooga plant where we are building it if we choose to do this." Another thing a Euro-spec Atlas would need is a diesel engine, because Europe. Volkswagen is already evaluating its 2.0-liter TDI for use in the new SUV.
The Volkswagen brand is a lot bigger deal in Europe than in the US, even after the whole Dieselgate fiasco. That means the Atlas wouldn't have the weight of expectations on its shoulders should it make the voyage across the Atlantic. We think Volkswagen would be wise to test the waters, offering the Atlas in select markets and seeing what the take rate is. Who knows, perhaps Europeans are open to the idea of driving a massive SUV provided it comes from a European automaker.