VW may announce name of new Chattanooga-made SUV

The new seven-seat VW SUV will be based on the CrossBlue concept and might be called Atlas in America.

The new seven-seat VW SUV will be based on the CrossBlue concept and might be called Atlas in America.

The new mid-sized SUV Volkswagen is building in Chattanooga, and a version the company plans to assemble in China, may be called by two different names.

German auto magazines said the SUV may be known as Atlas in the United States and Teramont in China.

Volkswagen Group of America said in a statement that it has not yet announced the name of the vehicle, which could be officially unveiled near the time of the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

The statement said the vehicle is “very targeted for the heart of the American market, and naming is an important part of the strategy, but we have not revealed the name yet.”

Auto Motor und Sport reported that the seven-seat SUV based on the CrossBlue concept might be called Atlas in America — the name of a Titan in mythology that supported the heavens on his shoulders. In China, VW and its Chinese partner SAIC may build an identical model under the name Teramont, the magazine said.

Auto Zeitung also reported the possible dual names for the vehicle. The meaning of the name Teramont is unclear.

Rebecca Linland, a senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said that badging a vehicle by two names isn’t uncommon in the industry, even for VW. For example, she said, the German automaker’s small Jetta sedan is called the Bora in many other places where it’s sold outside the U.S.

However, the use of two names for an SUV would mark a departure for the VW brand. The automaker now offers the Tiguan and Touareg SUVs in the US and in other world markets.

The change is seen as a nod to giving more autonomy to the brand’s North American headquarters as it tries to bolster sales.

“It’s an ongoing issue within VW,” Linland said. “There has been a culture of tellers when it comes to the U.S. instead of listening to what the market wants.”

She said that Americans’ needs in their vehicles are different than those of drivers in other parts of the world.

“When I’m in Germany driving 120 mph [192 kph] [on the Autobahn], I’m not eating a cheeseburger or drinking coffee,” Linland quipped. “The attitude toward driving is different.”

Automotive News Europe reported that Volkswagen executives broke from convention while debating the name of the SUV and let the North American team pick it. Normally, a committee in Germany would have decided on a single global name starting with “T,” following the pattern of the Tiguan and Touareg.

Production in Chattanooga on the SUV is slated to start late this year with the vehicle hitting dealerships early in 2017.



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