TheCarConnection reported it first, earlier this month. Now, other outlets are confirming our report that Volkswagen will likely replace the Passat in the U.S. with its upcoming "NMS" mid-size sedan due in 2011.
The latest information comes again from VW’s U.S. chief Stefan Jacoby, who told Automotive News that the company is still “looking at” whether to replace the Passat with the new mid-size sedan or sell the two side by side.
Jacoby told TheCarConnection that the NMS would replace the Passat in the U.S. in an exclusive interview in Germany.
The problem with selling the Passat alongside the new Tennessee-built sedan is that the U.S.-built mid-sizer will be larger than the Passat, and cheaper. The current 2010 Passat starts at $27,695 and measures in at 188.2 inches in length. Expect the new mid-size sedan to be priced around the $20,000 mark, making it a perfect competitor for cars like the Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
The reason for the major price differential between the Passat and the new mid-size is the exchange rate. While the Passat has to be imported from Europe, the new mid-size sedan will be built at a factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Capacity at the place will be more than 150,000 vehicles but VW expects sales to only reach 100,000 annually. By comparison, sales of the Passat sedan and wagon peaked at 96,142 in 2002 but fell to 30,034 last year.
Incidentally, the recently launched Passat CC sedan will remain on sale, and the new "NMS" and the CC will likely be paired as are the Nissan Altima and Maxima, close in size but distinct in mission.
VW also confirmed to TheCarConnection that the new NMS sedan will share much of its running gear with a new Chinese-market sedan, and will be sold around the world in markets like India and Russia--turning the project from a U.S.-only vehicle to a more profitable global mission.
[AutoNews, sub req'd]