DETROIT - A new Volkswagen, dubbed "the Camry fighter" in some circles, was launched this morning as VW took the wraps off its Chattanooga-made Passat at the auto show here.
Amid pulsating music and a big crowd of journalists and auto executives, VW officials drove one of the new cars onto a stage for its world premiere. The new midsize sedan is to become a linchpin for the German automaker's new foray in America, according to the company.
Jonathan Browning, Volkwagen Group of America's chief executive, said the car will "change the rules in the midsize segment."
"This vehicle will be A-first in its class," he said.
The car is larger than the old Passat and costs less, starting at about $20,000, compared to about $26,000 for the existing Passat, according to VW official.
The new car offers three engine choices, including a clean diesel that will provide what VW says is a best-in-class 43 miles per gallon.
The car is to go on sale later this year as a 2012 model.
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who was at the North American International Auto Show, said 85 percent of the new Passat's parts are made in the United States.
"I think the VW brand will grow tremendously," he said.
Trevor Hamilton, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of economic development who was in Detroit, said the unveiling of the vehicle is "a historic occasion" for both VW and the Scenic City.
For full story, see Tuesday's Times Free Press.