VW’s Decision To Make Passats In The US, For The US Has Been A Huge Success

Volkswagen today is celebrating the production of its 700,000th Passat at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. And that’s a milestone worth celebrating. But there’s a bigger story behind it.

The German automaker started producing the Passat in Chattanooga just over eight years ago, in April 2011. It’s a completely different model than the one produced under the same name overseas.

Last year, it sold just over 60,000 of those “new midsize sedans” in America. But on average, it’s sold nearly 80,000 of them in the US each year since local production began. Compare that to 40,000 or so it sold on average each year when it was still importing them from Europe. In other words, the decision to make a specialized Passat for the US in the US has paid off roughly two-fold.

Not too shabby for a vehicle competing in a shrinking segment. Domestic automakers are quickly abandoning sedans, with Ford giving up on the Fusion altogether, and FCA discontinuing the Chrysler 200 – both erstwhile Passat competitors. And VW has seen a downward trend in the sales of its “new midsize sedan” in the US as well. Those 60,722 Passats that it sold in America last year represents a major slide from the 117,023 it sold in 2012, ever since which sales have steadily declined.

Fortunately VW isn’t putting all its eggs in the sedan basket – even if it did recently introduce a new Jetta sedan to slot in underneath the larger Passat. Late in 2016, it started producing the new Atlas sport-ute in Chattanooga alongside the Passat. And it’s quickly turning into one of the top sellers for Volkswagen of America.

Last month it sold 5,404 examples of the Atlas in the United States. That places it second in the company’s sales charts behind only the smaller Tiguan (built in Mexico), of which it sold 7,637. The Passat came in a close fifth, just behind the two aforementioned crossovers, the Golf, and the Jetta – but well ahead of the Beetle and Touareg.

Oh, and the landmark 700,000th sedan built in Chattanooga? It’s a silver Passat GT with a VR6 and six-speed DSG. “The history of Volkswagen Chattanooga is intertwined with the history of the U.S. Passat. As we grow and add models, we take pride in continuing to produce quality Passats in the state of Tennessee,” said plant chief Antonio Pinto. “I am very proud of our team for reaching this important milestone and look forward to more to come.”

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  • Rocket

    Just building the car here in the US was bound to lower prices and boost sales. I contend they could have, and probably should have, built the Euro Passat here rather than our unique version. We’ll never know if such a move would have been the smarter move.

    • dumblikeyou2

      The Euro Passat is WAY overrated. It truly is not that much better in the flesh. I just spent a week in Europe and they’re basically the Chevy Impala of taxis there. They don’t, I stress DON’T look any better, just slightly slimmer design. Still the same junky plastics inside too.

      • Puddingpopper

        damn, expectations of Arteon not good

    • Daniela Wolf

      It’s simple US-Americans just pay less for the same car;
      Becuase they want to pay less the get worse cars with worse material.
      Thats why BMW is builing SUVs on two different belts.
      1. For the US market with worse quality.
      2. For the export into other countries with better quality.

      Sad story.

      • Absolutely not true about BMW…the US has stricter emissions and safety requirements compared to EU and the rest of the world, hence a separate assembly line…I have driven same EU and American models of M-B and BMW and actually, we pay less for a higher quality vehicle compared to EU…

        • Autoexperte

          Daniela Wolf is the Volkswagen troll

  • MPAMPIS

    700000 bored cars

  • Autoexperte

    the production number of Camry in one year

  • RS6 Performance Wagon Lover

    Atlas sport-ute?! The Tanoak is in production? I’m sure it was just an SUV, not the ute version……yet.

  • Since the recent refreshed design, I have to say it looks sportier and smarter, and especially in SE and SEL trims…

  • krusshall

    It’s a decent car but I couldn’t get past the strange layout of seat, steering wheel, and pedals. It makes you sit with your legs towards the centerline of the car. That and the 5-cylinder was pretty coarse.

    • dumblikeyou2

      Yup, because the steering wheel is off-center to the seating position. Something everyone seems to have forgotten was a complaint in reviews when it was launched.

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