While Tennessee and Volkswagen officials eye a possible future expansion of the German automaker in Chattanooga, the initial vehicle produced at the factory is seeing its first full redesign.
New sketches of the 2020 model Passat, on which production is to start next year in Chattanooga, were unveiled today.
Mark Gillies, Volkswagen of America's senior manager of product and technology communications, said all of the exterior sheet metal of the Passat is new except one panel.
The interior of the midsize sedan, which will be revealed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month, also is revised, he said.
"The engine gets a bit more torque," Gillies said, adding that mechanically "it's essentially a carryover."
But, he said, the new Passat has a lot more value built into the vehicle that will go on sale next year.
For example, Gillies said, the base Passat will have front-assist braking, blind-spot monitoring, and LED headlights as standard features. Also standard are Android and Apple CarPlay connectivity, he said.
Gillies said the spacious interior of the vehicle is unchanged.
He said it was too early to talk about pricing for the redesigned Passat, a vehicle that was first produced in Chattanooga in 2011.
The plant currently makes the 2019 Passat and the seven-seat Atlas SUV. Also next year, the factory will start assembly of a five-seat version of the Atlas.
On Tuesday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam cited the earlier successful launch of the Atlas, which through November has posted sales of 52,960 vehicles.
Passat sales have tailed off as more buyers purchase SUVs and trucks. Sales of the sedan are 38,285 units through November, down 34 percent over the same period last year, according to the automaker.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.