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First Look: 2012 Volkswagen Midsize Sedan

First new product for new Chattanooga plant revealed.

by on Oct.28, 2009

VW provides a first sneak peek at the 2012 Volkswagen Midsize Sedan, scheduled for production in Tennessee.

VW provides a first sneak peek at the 2012 Volkswagen Midsize Sedan, scheduled for production in Tennessee.

It isn’t much.  Let’s get that out of the way right up front, but it’s nonetheless the first glimpse we’ve been given of the midsize sedan Volkswagen plans to produce at its all-new Chattanooga assembly plant, which is still more than a year away from opening.

Volkswagen of America’s high-flying CEO, Stefan Jacoby, has set some tough targets for the automaker.  It’s aiming to more than double sales, by 2018, to 800,000 units a year, significantly better than it did even back in the days when the original Beetle dominated the subcompact and import market segments.

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Of course, it’s a very different VW today.  The so-called “New” Beetle is little more than a market afterthought, and the company now offers a wide range of products, from the compact Golf up to the big Touareg sport-utility vehicle.  But VW is betting that it needs to take a big step up from its current midsize offering, the Passat.

While details remain scarce, VW says the New Midsize Sedan, or NMS, for short, while make its debut in late 2011, which would mean a 2012 model-year designation.  It is expected to be the first product to go into the Tennessee plant, but likely won’t be the only one.

Whether it retains the global Passat designation or gets an all-new name is something we’ll probably not find out until closer to launch.  What is expected to be critical is that the U.S. market will be the primary target for the NMS, meaning we can expect, among other things, plenty of cupholders.  Engine options, transmission choices, wheels, tires, interior trim, all will be designed, we’re told, with U.S. buyers in mind.

Scoring a hit with the sedan will be critical, and not just for VWoA.  Earlier this month, during a preview of the new 2010 VW Golf, a senior official told TheDetroitBureau.com that the corporate goal is to become the world’s best-selling automaker by 2018 – and probably a lot sooner.  Considering recent gains in global sales – and the mounting problems for Japanese rival Toyota, the current sales king-of-the-hill – many analysts believe that’s possible, especially if VW can gain ground in the States.

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