Business / Corporate

VW unveils apple-skinned SUV challenger to Tesla's Model X

Bloomberg

Volkswagen AG unveiled an electric sport utility vehicle concept to challenge Tesla Inc.’s Model X as part of the auto industry’s largest push into battery-powered vehicles.

The full-size SUV, available from 2021, features rotating lounge seats covered in so-called AppleSkin — an artificial leather made in part from apple juice waste, VW said ahead of the Shanghai auto show. The ID. Roomzz will follow the rollout of an all-electric hatchback and a compact crossover in 2020 as well as battery versions of the Lavida and Bora sedans in China this year.

China is forcing automakers to sell more electric vehicles and more battery-powered and hybrid cars to fight pollution. VW is fighting to keep profits from sliding as it spends an unprecedented €30 billion ($34 billion) to roll out the industry’s largest fleet of EVs.

VW is developing 70 all-electric models by 2028. By 2023, it plans to build electric cars at 18 factories in Europe, China and the U.S.

The VW group targets sales of more than 400,000 so-called electrified vehicles in China in 2020. Half of the more than 30 fully electric and hybrid models will be produced locally

The company prepares to deliver 1.5 million alternative-energy vehicles in China in 2025.

The ID. Roomzz, capable of automated driving with someone still behind the wheel, has a range as long as 280 miles (448 km) under European certification rules, lagging the Model X’s maximum of 351 miles.

VW is investing more than €4 billion in China this year with local partners as a market contraction that started last year spills into 2019. Sales in March slumped for a 10th straight month.

VW is counting on a growing SUV lineup to sustain profit and sales in the world’s biggest car market, expecting their share to double to at least 40 percent of the group’s total deliveries in 2020. This will include two new SUV models from VW’s new Jetta brand in the third quarter, which targets younger Chinese buyers.