Is this the new American sized Passat?
Volkswagen probably will drop the Passat sedan and wagon in 2011 when VW's new U.S.-built mid-sized four-door is expected to go on sale."We are looking at it in detail," Stefan Jacoby, VW Group of America CEO, said this month at a press event here.
The U.S.-built sedan, which has yet to be named, will be larger than the Passat but priced lower. "We'll have two sedans coming out at the same time, and the smaller one will cost considerably more than the bigger one," said a VW spokesman.
The Passat sedan is 188.2 inches (4789mm) long. VW has not released dimensions for the new sedan.
VW has said it can afford to price the new sedan lower because it will be built at the new factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Unlike the Passat, it will be less affected by currency exchange rates. The 2010 Passat sedan starts at $27,695, including shipping. The wagon starts at $29,095. The U.S.-built sedan is expected to start at about $20,000. A spokesman said VW doesn't need the Passat wagon because its Jetta station wagon is only 9 inches shorter. The Jetta wagon is offered with a popular diesel option. About half of 2009 Jetta wagon buyers chose a diesel. A restyled Jetta wagon was launched this month.
For the 2010 model year, VW has dropped the V-6 version of the Passat wagon and sedan and offers the vehicles only with front-wheel drive and a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine. The Passat will still be sold in Europe. A redesigned version is scheduled to arrive in 2011.
VW initially expects to sell about 100,000 of the new sedans annually, far above what the Passat has done lately. The U.S. factory will have a capacity of 150,000 vehicles. Sales of the Passat sedan and wagon peaked at 96,142 in 2002 but fell to 30,034 last year. Sales through September dipped to 9,163, down from 25,478 during the same period last year.
The new mid-sized sedan will be exported but has been designed primarily for the United States. VW will continue to sell the coupe-styled CC sedan, derived from the Passat, in the U.S. The CC went on sale last year. The 2010 version starts at $28,300, including shipping. Through September, VW has sold 15,187 CCs.
Jacoby didn't give a timetable for his decision, but dealers say he has given them the same message about the Passat's likely demise. Casey Gunther, a VW dealer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said he's not surprised. He said the Passat sells well only "when they put incentive money behind it and find the sweet spot."
"The CC has pretty much picked up where the Passat sedan left off," Gunther said. "It has a good price point, and it's a beautiful car--they nailed it with that one."