Volkswagen Passat sales surge though supplies are 'constrained'

Volkswagen Passat sales surge though supplies are 'constrained'

March 2nd, 2012 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

A Passat, a hot-selling line of Volkswagen cars, moves through the assembly line at the Chattanooga VW plant.

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

PASSAT DIESEL


The Passat TDI gets about 43 miles per gallon on the highway and can go nearly 800 miles on a single tank, according to VW.

Volkswagen's Chattanooga auto assembly plant is pressed to keep up with demand for the company's fuel-sipping diesel version of its new Passat sedan, officials said Thursday.

"It has taken off very well," said Jonathan Browning, VW of America's chief executive.

VW posted total U.S. February sales of 30,577 vehicles, up 42.5 percent over the same month a year ago. The automaker reported its best February in America since 1973.

Browning said in a conference call with analysts and reporters that sales of the Chattanooga-made Passat sedan hit 8,189 for the month, its best since August 2001.

However, Browning said sales of the Passat diesel version is "constrained in some availability."

"It's felt acutely," he said.

Dale Smith, general manager of Village Volkswagen of Chattanooga, said if someone ordered a Passat diesel today, he would have to wait four months.

"I'd like to see that narrowed," he said.

Edmunds.com senior analyst Michelle Krebs said in a statement that the Passat is giving Volkswagen "a huge boost."

"Higher gas prices are only helping Volkswagen diesels. The company's only problem is that they need more of them," she said.

Krebs said there are no losers in the Volkswagen lineup. VW reported its Jetta sedan remained the volume leader with sales totaling 12,838, its best February ever.

Sales of VW's Tiguan sport utility vehicle hit 2,280 for the month, a new high for February, according to VW.

VW's Chattanooga plant, which had its official opening in May, employs about 2,700 workers.