Thursday, August 02, 2007

VW City Expert Coming to Frankfurt This Fall

Volkswagen is set to unveil a new mini car at the Frankfurt Auto Show this fall called the City Expert. The car is primarily designed for emerging markets, and will be designed to be low-cost, low-weight, and simple to manufacture.

VW has not released any teaser images of the new car, but on paper, it sounds a lot more like a true successor to the original VW Beetle than the current New Beetle has been, primarily because it will be rear engined and driven by (at most) a three-cylinder engine. Some developing markets will get only two-cylinder versions, while a one-cylinder version (which likely sounds like a lawn tractor) are also under consideration.

Because of cost constraints (and thanks to the vehicle's low weight), power steering will not be available. The City Expert will likely include both front and rear cargo areas (only the air conditioning unit, radiator, and battery are in front of the driver).

VW is uncertain as to whether the City Expert will be sold in North America; no doubt, they are closely watching the Smart ForTwo's US launch in early 2008 (more information here and here on the Smart ForTwo) to see how that similarly-configured car fares in the US before making a decision. The City Expert is, however, expected to be sold in Western Europe, and I'm guessing if the styling and pricing are right, could prove to be a formidable competitor to the Dacia Logan, discussed extensively here.

I can't wait to see this car, although I don't expect it to look anything like the Beetle. Now, if only Volkswagen could do something about the name, which sounds ridiculous to me.

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