Volkswagen says Passat sales in U.S. best since 2005

Volkswagen says Passat sales in U.S. best since 2005

November 3rd, 2011 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Sales for Volkswagen's Passat last month in the United States were the highest in nearly six years for the midsize sedan, according to the German automaker.

Ivan Drury, an Edmunds.com analyst, said VW ought to sustain that level of sales for the Chattanooga-made Passat for the remainder of this year and into 2012.

He said he expects sales of the redesigned Passat, made larger for Americans and sold at a sharply lower base price, will follow those of the compact Jetta.

Last year, VW launched an all-new Jetta, also larger and less costly, and sales are up 62 percent so far in 2011, figures show.

"It's easier to shop against direct competitors," Drury said about how the Passat base model now compares against other midsize cars.

VW Group of America this week reported its dealers sold 5,040 Passats in October, the first full month of sales for the Chattanooga-made vehicle. VW last sold that many Passats in the United States in December 2005, according to the German automaker.

Jonathan Browning, chief executive of VW of America, said in Chattanooga last month that initial Passat sales exceeded expectations. He said the level of interest on the Internet and among dealers is "a good sign."

VW sold up to 80,000 Passats a year at its peak. However, it only sold more than 12,000 last year and just 11,000 in 2009.

Drury said VW, with its U.S. sales up nearly 40 percent last month over a year ago, is gaining momentum.

He said that when an automaker starts getting momentum from one model, such as the Jetta, it can spread.

VW's luxury arm Audi reported record October U.S. sales of 10,225 vehicles, topping the 8,128 sold in October 2010.

The Chattanooga plant officially started production in May and is producing about 400 cars daily, officials said.