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2011 Volkswagen Jetta: More American, More Affordable?

July 21, 2009 has already previewed a Euro-spec Golf VI and gushed over its features and interior details. But don't get your hopes too high expecting that the decidedly upscale feel or top-tech powertrains will arrive to the U.S. in the most affordable version of the next-generation, 2011 Volkswagen Jetta.

Volkswagen has missed out on the budget-priced end of the compact sedan market, and it appears the company is targeting it for growth. For 2009, the Jetta starts at $17,515, but that's $2,000 or more above the base price of the Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cobalt, or even Honda Civic and more than $3,000 above the base price for the Hyundai Elantra or Kia Forte.

The company has just confirmed that it will spend one billion dollars to expand its Puebla, Mexico plant and develop a new model that will be built "exclusively in Mexico for global markets from mid-2010," according to a press release.

VW is referring to the upcoming New Compact Sedan, as it's called within the company—a cost-cut version of the Jetta specifically for the North American market.

2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan S

2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan S

Although Volkswagen already saves money with the current Jetta by building most U.S. bound versions in Puebla, the automaker hopes to save more money on this next-generation vehicle by reducing assembly time and cutting other ancillary costs. Volkswagen likely doesn't make much on its current Jetta, the Mark 5, which by some accounts takes more time to assemble than any other car in its class.

The new take on the Jetta would arrive a year from now, for the 2011 model year; then in the first half of calendar-year 2011 Volkswagen's all-new Passat replacement, called New Mid-Size Sedan within the company and to be built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will arrive. According to several sources, an even more affordable sedan based on the Polo—and taking vehicles like the Nissan Versa and Chevrolet Aveo—might be brought to market around the same time.

VW will be able to increase daily capacity at Puebla to 2,100 units, up 300 from the current max. "In addition, we will continue to increase our purchasing volumes in North America and especially Mexico," said Otto Lindner, CEO of Volkswagen de Mexico.

Volkswagen is still targeting a tremendous expansion in the U.S., to 800,000 sales by 2018.

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