It was nearly four months ago that Volkswagen of America built its first U.S. Passat but the automaker is now prepared to expand production at its recently opened facility in Chattanooga and is just waiting for a sign in the market. Don Jackson, president of manufacturing at the Chattanooga operations, said that steps have been taken on how it will proceed.
He explained that the company has considered the various shift models and has accomplished all the planning.
The only thing that has to be done now is to “pull the trigger.” This plant initially has the annual capacity to build 150,000 vehicles. Volkswagen would only have to adjust the volume to between 200,000 and 220,000 each year.
For a decade, the Passat hasn’t performed well in the U.S. In 2010, less than 13,000 Passats were sold in the U.S. This is very low when compared to sales of over 311,000 Honda Accords and over 327,000 Toyota Camrys last year.
Jackson said that Chattanooga will produce 45,000 to 50,000 Passats by the end of the year as it ramps up production. The plant makes a different version of the Passat from the version sold in Europe and other markets.
Jackson revealed that Chattanooga intends to export the car to South Korea. He clarified that the increase in output is a different matter from the longer-range expansion plans that have already been created for Chattanooga, depending on the demand in the market.
When it comes to design, what makes the 2012 Volkswagen Passat unique among the brand’s lineup is that it was made to fit the lifestyle and preferences of customers in the U.S. The layout of the interior exhibits simplicity and has a ring of elegance to it. Nothing inside is over the top or even trendy. The materials used are of the highest quality which is combined with the meticulous attention to detail and complemented by the lines that move in a style that is easy to the eye.
In addition, the interior also offers a large amount of space, large enough for five adult passengers to sit inside and stretch out comfortably. Getting inside and outside is easy due to the four large doors that open wide. On the outside, the rear portion has horizontal lines dominating it. This rear section has an elegant style and its dynamics is highlighted by the lines that start on the taillights and go up to the sides.
One distinct characteristic is the two-art taillights designed in a way that it is assimilated with the trunk lid and the fender in the lid. Going to the flank, the sill area has a powerful crease that makes a good and animated interplay of the light reflections. Strongly shaped, the wheel arches highlight even further the dynamism of this model. In terms of aerodynamics, this is seen by how the roof line goes to the back where the rear window has an almost coupe-like cut.
Meanwhile, the three side windows give it a luxurious feel especially with the extended and lengthy glass surface. It is in the front section that the 2012 Passat shines. For many strong brands, one of the most fundamental qualities is how the front section is styled and the 2012 Passat does not disappoint.
It sports a new horizontal brand face which combines with the headlights and the three-blade grille to result in a single entity. With a more three-dimensional shape in addition to being more upright, the grille’s stricter geometry makes it more distinctive and elegant.
Just under the front bumper, the lower intake has a honeycomb surface with the corner-illuminating foglights located at each end. As mentioned, the interior offers ample space especially for the rear seats and this due to an overall length of 191.6 inches, width of 72.2 inches, and a wheelbase that stretches to 110.4 inches. Without a doubt, this 2012 version may be the largest Passat to come out from Volkswagen.
In addition to having generous dimensions, this four-door sedan comes with a trademark clean design dominated by horizontal elements, boosting its position even further as the classy choice for the midsize class. Owing mainly to its balanced proportions, the 2012 Passat exhibits a dominant, timeless, and unique style.
This echoes the company’s design DNA that was developed by Volkswagen Group Italian design chief Walter de Silva and Volkswagen Brand German design leader Klaus Bischoff. Going back to the interior, the seats offer great comfort and with the extra side-support and under-though support, long journeys are not an issue. Under the base version, the seat of the driver can be adjusted in eight ways which include lumbar.
For the base S model, the cloth trim is available with the SE variant having the brand’s very own perforated V-Tex leatherette. SEL models and above offer full leather surfaces for the seats. Still on the interior, the instrument panel is the same as that of the Touareg. It has a digital multi-function display which is surrounded by gauges having a chrome trim. The air vents, climate control panels, and even the surrounds of the navigation system and the radio have a high-end chrome appearance utilized.
In chrome as well is the handle button for the parking brake and the rotary light switch. With the exception of the base model, all Passat trims will have chrome interior highlights on the mirror adjustment, trunk opening switches, and window. In summary, the 2012 Passat is a vehicle that has a very premium look, making it seem much more expensive than it actually is.