The Volkswagen Phaeton will be replaced by an all-new saloon that will be expected to top its class, VW development chief Heinz-Jakob Neusser has confirmed at the Geneva motor show

Neusser said “the next Phaeton has to be class leading” and be “very smooth and luxurious” to drive.

Despite never selling in great numbers, Neusser said a replacement for the Phaeton was important as it acted as a technology flagship for the VW brand and allowed advanced systems to be put into production, with lessons then applied to getting that technology into its more mainstream models at an affordable price.

“We use all the technology and develop it for other VWs and group brands,” said Neusser. “It’s actually got a very attractive business case.”

The new Phaeton would be based on VW’s next-generation MLB platform, which is currently in development. 

Neusser also said he wouldn’t be resurrecting plans for a small VW sports car inspired by the BlueSport concept. The BlueSport was the brainchild of his predecessor, Ulrich Hackenberg, but a business case could never be made for it.

Nesusser admits he “personally likes the idea, as do all the engineers” but the business case was not there still – and even diminishing further – as “the segment is so small”. 

More plug-in VWs are planned, however, and Neusser can see a time when every VW in each segment the brand competes in has a plug-in hybrid variant. 

VW is also committed to developing pure EV technology, and Neusser expects current battery technology to improve to allow around 50 per cent more range than at present by 2016.

Then, by 2020, he says next-generation battery technology will allow for a range that is three times further than is acheivable today, at which point the technology would have more mass market appeal should the infrastructure be in place to support it. 

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