An All-American Sedan
The centerpiece of VW's new plan to "reconnect with the customer" began two years ago with the decision to develop a new car specifically designed for the U.S., the construction of a $1-billion Chattanooga, Tennessee, factory in which to build it, a new $550 million engine plant in Mexico and a local supplier park. The New Midsize Sedan (NMS), as the model is currently known, will replace the Passat and is pitched at the Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Camry. It goes on sale "between the second and third quarters of 2011."
VW's just-released sketches of the car reveal a crisply chiseled sedan of conventional proportions. It will debut "in close to finished form" at this January's Detroit auto show, says Browning. The key to the NMS is a car designed to meet American tastes â€” and competitive pricing.
"Volkswagen has high awareness and acceptance in the U.S.," says Browning. "But our products lead us into a narrow piece of market. Our cars are too expensive. We're limited by our transaction prices." With this factory, which has the initial capacity to build 150,000 vehicles, Browning believes that "we'll have our cost-base in place."