The 560-hp Beetle derivative will be driven by Tanner Foust and Steve Speed in the Red Bull Global Rallycross series.
Volkswagen GRC racing Beetle.
CHICAGO –uses its Chicago Auto Show stage to announce its re-entry into racing in the U.S. with the GRC ultra-high-performance Beetle.
The 560-hp Beetle variant will be driven by famed racers Tanner Foust and Steve Speed for theAndretti team in the Red Bull Global Rallycross series.
Michael Andretti, Foust and Speed joined VW of America’s Vinay Shahani, vice president-marketing, on stage here to make the announcement.
Foust and Speed initially will race modified VW Polo rally cars when they begin driving for Volkswagen Andretti this summer at the X Games in Austin, TX.
The team will switch to the GRC Beetle at an unspecified time later in the season. The GRC Beetle employs turbocharging and direct injection to achieve the 560-hp output from its 4-cyl. engine.
VW last participated in U.S. racing three years ago, with souped-up ’09 Jetta compacts in the Jetta TDI Cup series.
Meanwhile, Shahani says the automaker still hasn’t made a decision on which plant will build the production version of the CrossBlue midsize CUV concept.
“There (are) a lot of factors that go into this complicated (matter),” he says.
The UAW vote being held next week at VW’s Chattanooga, TN, assembly plant is not holding up the decision, Shahani contends.
“It’s a bigger-picture discussion trying to take into consideration capacities at our various plants that are available to us in the region – it’s a big decision so we’re going to make it very carefully.”
The Chattanooga facility has been considered the front-runner for the vehicle. It has straight-time capacity for 170,000 vehicles, but output totaled only 135,392 Passat sedans in 2013, down 11.2% from 2012’s 152,543, according to WardsAuto data.
Volkswagen insiders have said the Tennessee plant could produce 250,000 units annually without additional floor space, enough to accommodate the CrossBlue.
Reaction to another potential future Volkswagen, the Beetle Dune concept from last month’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, has been “very positive,” Shahani says. But he declines to predict how soon it could make it into production if given the go-ahead.
“It all depends on the level of change from the current model and of course the workload of the other projects the engineering organization is working on.”