The biggest news from Volkswagen at Detroit concerned a car that isn’t here.

The CrossBlue concept, a large SUV which VW North America regards as vital if it is to hit its 2018 target of 800,000 sales a year, has been confirmed for production.

The CrossBlue was unveiled at the same venue 12 months ago, and VW’s American sales people could barely contain their excitement at the possibility of adding it to their line-up. It is a car which would primarily be for the US market although China and Russia are two other countries which could be interested.

It is still to be decided where the production version will be made, but it will be in one of VW’s North American plants – Chattanooga, Tennessee or Puebla, Mexico. Unlike Chattanooga, Puebla is already equipped to build the platform which will underpin it but the plant is currently working to capacity.

VW sold only 476,000 cars in the US last year, hampered mainly by the ageing Jetta and Passat and the absence of the latest Golf. The new Golf arrives this year but is a relatively small volume car in the US. The CrossBlue, a seven seat family SUV larger than the Touareg, would make a major contribution towards VW hitting its 800,000 sales target.

The new cars on display at Detroit include a Passat BlueMotion powered not by a diesel engine but by a variant of the 1.4 TFSI unit, and the Beetle Dune concept, a raised and more rugged version of the latest VW Bug. VW says it is production-ready, but its prospects will depend on whether it could pay for itself.

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