The CrossBlue has now been cleared for production to provide a vital missing link in VW's American line-up, but is not targeted at any other parts of the world.

However, the plug-in hybrid powertrain will be available in three new smaller SUVs, which will be offered in Europe.

The first is a replacement for the current Tiguan. There will also be a coupé model based on the Tiguan – similar in concept to BMW's X6 or MINI's forthcoming Paceman – plus a longer-wheelbase seven-seat model.

All will use the new VW Group vehicle architecture that underpins the seventh-generation VW Golf, the Audi A3 range, Skoda's latest Octavia and the new SEAT Leon.

The plug-in drivetrain features two electric motors – one contained within the gearbox at the front and the other on the rear axle – so that cars using it can switch between two and four-wheel drive on demand.

In the Detroit show car the motors were paired with a TDI diesel engine delivering a combined power output of 305PS. However they could just as easily operate with other internal combustion engines or alternative power sources such as a hydrogen fuel cell.