Volkswagen unveiled new electric cars Tuesday at a German auto show, though clean diesel vehicles like those the Chattanooga plant is to make will help lead VW's green options in the U.S., officials said.
"We are still No. 1 in diesel technology and want to remain that," said VW spokesman Christian Buhlmann in Frankfurt.
VW revealed the L1, a two-seat hybrid concept that could get about 240 miles per gallon, according to the company.
The L1 will be powered by a turbo diesel and electric motor and weigh only 840 pounds, which is far lighter than most cars on the road.
Also, VW officially showed off the E-Up!, an electric car powered by lithium-ion batteries. The vehicle, that can seat three adults and a child, will have a range of about 70 miles before needing recharging.
"We'll start producing in 2013," Mr. Buhlmann said about the E-Up!. "Later on, we'll bring it to the U.S. as well."
However, VW spokesman Guenther Scherelis said plans are not at the moment to bring that technology to Chattanooga, where VW is to open an auto assembly plant in early 2011.
Volkswagen's battery-powered E-Up! is 125.6-inches long. A Mini Cooper is 20 inches longer.
A focus in Chattanooga will be VW's clean diesels, said Mr. Scherelis. Officials for the automaker have said it would like its clean diesels to comprise up to 30 percent of the vehicles produced at the new Chattanooga plant.
Mr. Buhlmann said the ultra-clean cars shown off Tuesday "don't make a lot of sense for the Tennessee Valley." He said the E-Up! could be a good solution for big cities.
In addition, beginning sales for the electric vehicles call for about 1,000 a year, Mr. Buhlmann said.
The new midsize sedan to be produced in Chattanooga will be a mass production vehicle, he said. VW has said it plans to make 150,000 cars a year at the Enterprise South industrial park factory.
Sales of VW's clean diesels, launched in 2008, are an indication that perceptions about diesel vehicles are changing in the U.S., according to the automaker.
Mr. Buhlmann said that almost a third of its sales of Jettas and Touaregs have the diesel engines.
The new diesels are smooth and quiet, with the Jetta getting up to 59 miles per gallon, according to VW. Also, its greenhouse gas emissions are way down from a typical gasoline-powered engine, the automaker said.
Still, Mr. Buhlmann said the future will hold more electric vehicles and hybrid-electrics. He said VW is engaged in electric battery research with a trio of companies, including Sanyo.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.