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Staff Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press Billboards such as this one on Amnicola Highway promote the new Volkswagen sedan being manufactured in Chattanooga. The new vehicle will be unveiled at the Detroit auto show on Monday.

For the first time, the wraps are coming off Volkswagen's new midsize sedan in Chattanooga next week.

Two days after the car's world premiere at Detroit's North American International Auto Show, VW execs will show off the sedan at a Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce meeting Wednesday.

Outgoing Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen will be there, as will former Chattanooga mayor and current U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

But the car is expected to steal the show.

One VW dealer sales chief said he's glad the time has finally come.

"If the new one comes in at the price they're projecting and does as well as the (newly redesigned compact) Jetta, it will be a home run," said Ron Kwiatkowski, new vehicle sales manager at Village Volkswagen of Chattanooga.

The sedan's cost is expected to come in thousands of dollars less than VW's existing Passat, which it replaces in North America, he said. The new VW is to be more in line with competition such as the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion, which generally cost between $20,000 and $25,000 at the base level.

On Wednesday, two of the yet-unnamed midsize sedans will be positioned at the front of the Convention Center room for the 11:30 a.m. meeting, said J.Ed. Marston, the Chamber's vice president of marketing.

SEE THE NEW VW

Get complete coverage of Volkswagen's unveiling of its new sedan at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday and Monday in the Times Free Press and at www.timesfreepress.com and on WRCB-TV Channel 3.

"We saw this as a golden opportunity to premiere the new VW and unveil it in Chattanooga," said Marston, citing the appearance of Bredesen, a key player in bringing VW's $1 billion plant to the city. The Enterprise South industrial park plant, to employ more than 2,000 workers, is expected to start

production within weeks.

Meeting participants will get an up-close look at the car, although test drives are out until the vehicles hit dealer showrooms in late summer, Marston said.

"This is what all the work over last three years has been pointing to," he said.

Marston said other players in the story of bringing VW to the city will take part in the Wednesday meeting, such as Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey, who's resigning to take a post in Gov.-elect Bill Haslam's administration, Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield and Chamber Chief Executive Tom Edd Wilson.

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