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Volkswagen unveiled the Tiguan concept car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday.  Courtesy of Volkswagen

Meet VW’s Sporty New Tiguan GTE Active Concept

Jan 11, 2016

Volkswagen wants to win Americans back in the wake of a diesel emissions scandal that pushed U.S. sales down 4.8% in 2015 and led to an investigation and civil suit by the Department of Justice. Therefore, it's timely that its latest concept vehicle combines SUVs and off-roading with plug-in hybrid technology.

Volkswagen (vlkay) introduced the Tiguan GTE Active Concept on Sunday, a day before the North American International Auto Show opened in Detroit. The five-seat plug-in hybrid car is based on a redeveloped second-generation Tiguan SUV that was revealed at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2015. The Tiguan SUV, which will hit the U.S. market in 2017, is bigger than the original concept with a longer wheelbase and room to seat seven people.

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The Tiguan GTE Active concept car has two electric motors and a gasoline engine. The vehicle can cover up to 20 miles in all-electric mode, says the company. The driving range, based on a battery capacity of 12.4 kilowatt hours and a 16.9-gallon fuel tank, is 580 miles.

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The concept aims to show the potential of plug-in hybrid systems, says VW. In this case, it's to show how the vehicle can tear it up on some desert 4X4 trail. To be clear, this concept was likely under development long before the diesel emissions scandal erupted in September 2015.

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The designers and engineers who worked on the concept car wanted to make sure the extreme off-roading message was heard, so they set the ground clearance under the axles to 8.9 inches and the maximum ground clearance under the body to 9.6 inches. The maximum ramp angle for overcoming road bumps grew from 20 in the production-ready Tiguan SUV to 24.7 degrees in the concept. A front skid plate was added to "make it clear" that the concept is designed for off-road excursions, VW says.

The concept is also equipped with an infotainment system, which is displayed on a 9.2-inch high-resolution touchscreen. The functions can be controlled by hand gestures.

Typically, these kinds of vehicles are meant to express where a company is headed and what technology or concepts might show up in later production models. Whether or not the Tiguan GTE Active concept is produced, it's clear Volkswagen intends to pepper the U.S. market with plug-in hybrids and SUVs.

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