Passats for U.S. dealers roll out

Passats for U.S. dealers roll out

April 16th, 2011 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant has gone from making test vehicles to rolling out 2012 Passats that dealers will be able to show to buyers as production of customer cars is about to ramp up.

Guenther Scherelis, general manager of communication for VW in Chattanooga, said the company will make several thousand of those vehicles.

"We've gone to production to build up cars for market introduction," said Scherelis.

Ron Kwiatkowski, new vehicle sales manager for Village Volkswagen in Chattanooga, said VW dealers are slated to receive a couple of cars in June to display to customers.

It won't be until late August or early September before customers can buy Passats off the lot and drive them home, he said.

On Friday, VW canceled because of bad weather an event that was to mark a milestone in production of the new Passat. The event is slated for early next week.

VW has hired about 1,600 workers at its $1 billion plant to make an all-new midsize sedan that, along with its redesigned Jetta compact, are the backbone of efforts to rapidly increase sales in the United States.

The German automaker is aiming to triple sales to 1 million units in the U.S. by 2018.

Kwiatkowski said Village Volkswagen, like other dealers, is on a waiting list for Passats.

"We've had quite a bit of interest" among potential customers, he said.

The sales manager said the dealership has been gathering emails and periodically contacting interested people.

"Once a month if we get news we do an email blast and keep them in the loop so to speak," Kwiatkowski said.

He termed the new Passat, designed for the tastes of American motorists, "impressive."

He cited its size and interior space, which is larger than the existing vehicle it replaces.

"If it comes in at the price they're saying, it's going to be a good one," Kwiatkowski said. VW officials said the base price will be about $20,000, much less than the existing Passat.