As you can see, VW's U.S. sales in 2015 were down over 20% from 2012 levels. (And that's mostly before the effects of VW's diesel-emissions scandal. Through September, VW's U.S. sales are down another 12.5% this year.)
As we see in the second chart, the explanation for that drop is pretty simple: VW has so far mostly missed the SUV boom. VW has two SUVs, but they're not competitive with mass-market rivals and they've sold poorly here.
The chart compares the VW brand's total U.S. sales of "light trucks" with those of the Explorer, Highlander, and Pilot. These totals include the VW Touareg and Tiguan SUVs as well as the Routan minivan.
VW's total SUV (and minivan) sales in the U.S. haven't been anywhere close to the sales of any of the three competitors it has targeted as rivals for the Atlas.
Long story short: If VW wants to turn around its flagging fortunes in the U.S., a family-size crossover SUV will be essential. That makes the new Atlas a critical product.
VW hasn't said what the new Atlas will cost
Pricing (and fuel economy ratings) will be announced closer to the Atlas's launch next spring, the company said. Until we see the pricing, it's hard to gauge the Atlas's chances.
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