VW delivering first Chattanooga-made Passats to customers

VW delivering first Chattanooga-made Passats to customers

September 13th, 2011 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

A new Volkswagen Passat sits on display on the deck of the Hunter Museum of Art in Chattanooga during a Volkswagen dinner and reception for international media in this file photo.

Photo by Jenna Walker/Times Free Press.

CLEAN DIESEL

VW says its diesel model Passat gets about 43 miles per gallon on the highway with a manual transmission.

Volkswagen on Monday started delivery of Chattanooga-made Passats to customers with a California man the first buyer to drive away with the all-new sedan.

But, it may be later this week before Chattanooga's VW dealership starts delivery of its Passats, an official said.

"We should deliver mine this week," said Ron Kwiatkowski, new vehicle sales manager for Village Volkswagen in Chattanooga.

Matt Duchesne, of San Jose, Calif., was the first to pick up the Passat he preordered. Duchesne bought a clean diesel version of the midsize car, one of 3,000 Passats that have been ordered.

To mark the occasion, Volkswagen will send Duchesne and a guest to the Chattanooga factory for a VIP tour, the company said.

Late last month, VW started shipping the Passat from Chattanooga to the West Coast as part of its rollout of the car.

VW of America spokesman Darryll Harrison said vehicles started Monday to reach dealerships and are available for purchase upon arrival.

"Inventory will increase significantly over the next few weeks," he said.

Kwiatkowski said Village Volkswagen has presold about 20 cars, the bulk of which are diesel models. He said Pete Cooper of the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga called him Monday wondering when he could pick up his car.

Kwiatkowski said he understands that VW sent cars to a distribution center on the West Coast and some of those cars were released to dealers Monday.

VW officials had said the cars were first shipped to California and Washington state because of the distance from the plant.

The Chattanooga factory, which opened this spring, produced its 10,000th all-new Passat last week.

"We are very excited to share this seminal moment for Volkswagen in America with Mr. Duchesne," said Marc Trahan, executive vice president of group quality at VW of America. "It is the fulfillment of our promise to the U.S. market that we can deliver a German-engineered car with American sensibilities at an affordable price."

After Duchesne tours the Chattanooga plant, VW will give him a fully stocked gift bag of VW gear, and Shell will give him $500 in gift cards for fuel, according to the German automaker.

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