VW unveils Apple-skinned SUV challenger to Tesla’s Model X

Volkswagen’s full-size SUV, available from 2021, features rotating lounge-seats covered in so-called AppleSkin (Bloomberg pic)

FRANKFURT: Volkswagen unveiled an electric sport utility vehicle concept to challenge Tesla’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 battery versions of the Lavida and Bora sedans in China this year.

China is forcing automaker to sell more electric vehicles more battery-powered and hybrid cars to fight pollution.

VW is fighting to keep profits from sliding as it invests an unprecedented spending of €30 billion (US$34 billion) to roll out the industry’s largest fleet of electric vehicles.

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 US.

VW group targets sales of more than 400,000 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 new energy vehicles in China in 2025.

The ID Roomzz, capable of automated driving with someone still behind the wheel, has a range of as much as 280 miles 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 the market’s 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 at VW’s new Jetta brand in the third quarter, which targets younger Chinese buyers.