published Monday, January 10th, 2011

VW turns to old name for new Chattanooga-made car

DETROIT — Volkswagen late Sunday unveiled the first images of the new Chattanooga-made sedan that will feature a familiar name — Passat.

Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn said the new-for-America Passat and its other vehicles send "a strong message."

"Volkswagen is back," he told a large group of VW officials and Tennesseans on the eve of the Detroit auto show. "Volkswagen is at home in America."

The new Passat, which translates to "tradewind" in German, will start at about $20,000, much less than the existing Passat.

Outgoing Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen said VW spent a lot of time and energy designing a car that targets the American market.

"I think it will be successful," he said about the midsize sedan.

Today, VW officially will roll out the car at the North American International Auto Show here.

Jonathan Browning, CEO of VW Group of America, said the company has "built one of the most advanced and environmentally sensitive plants in the world."

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, who was present at the show, quipped that the new car is like "having another baby."

Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey, also in Detroit, said the vehicle is "a beautiful car."

"It's very driveable, roomy, good acceleration," he said.

Volkswagen, with its Chattanooga plant helping to lead the way, hopes to double U.S. sales in two to three years, to 450,000 vehicles. By 2018, the auto company wants to sell 1 million VWs and Audis in the United States.

VW has introduced more than a half-dozen new models in America in the past couple of years and more are coming, company officials said.

Industry insiders say a redesigned, Mexican-made Beetle is expected to go on sale later this year along with the midsize Passat.

With the new Passat, Volkswagen hopes to capture the heart of the American market and eclipse Toyota as the No. 1 foreign automaker.

VW officials have said the Chattanooga plant will be able to produce 150,000 vehicles a year and will employ more than 2,000 people. They've also talked about the potential to expand the plant's size.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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signalmtnman said...

will there be an AWD (4 motion) option to get around in all this snow????

January 10, 2011 at 2:05 p.m.
deltenney said...

A little disappointed that VW went with the old name and did not significantly update the body style for this presentation at the auto show. It is hard to imagine they will reach their goal of being number one in the USA in a few years -- there is competition out there!

January 10, 2011 at 3:45 p.m.
alohaboy said...

Ok, Its about $5,000 to $8,000 less than the existing Passat but will it rank above 17th in its class as it does right now? Yes, cost hurt its rank and a 20% cut in price will help.

January 10, 2011 at 6:16 p.m.
dude_abides said...

Arbeit Macht Freimobile has a ring to it.

January 10, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.
Beamis said...

The Asians will eat their lunch. Can't understand the bad styling and use of an old name that conjures up bad quality and high prices. This is not a good omen for success.

January 10, 2011 at 9:58 p.m.
YagamiLight said...

Good job on this Volkswagen. This is a great start. This new Passat will be the first step on your big goals. Make cars with better quality and better performance. Like this new Passat which was built with good parts. I just hope that its Audio Installation Accessories and some other accessories is great.

June 28, 2011 at 10:29 p.m.
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