From dream to design to Detroit... after waiting and wondering, in early January, we learned the name and exactly what the promised mid-sized sedan for the North American market looked like. Guenther Scherelis, VW Community Relations, says "so, we are very excited, we unveil the result of 2 1/2 years of hard work and we are all looking forward to that and we are all very proud and very optimistic that the car will hit the market."
"...and now with precision, quality, and performance we are proud to present to you the all new 2012 Passat." Senator Bob Corker says "it was the greatest moment of my public life, to receive the call, I was in an energy hearing in Washington when I got the call from Germany and again emotion washed over me again today seeing those sights."
Volkswagen followed the Passat's unveiling, with an advertising home run, premiering a Star Wars clip on Youtube just days before airing it during the Super Bowl. The Vader ad made a star out of Max Page, who appeared in Chattanooga a few months later to mark the grand opening of the plant. Former Governor Phil Bredesen says "we were all in this together. I wish Washington would take note of what Tennessee can accomplish."
By summer, Passat production ramped up for an early fall debut at dealerships. Don Jackson, President of Manufacturing, VW of Chattanooga, says "and the plant is in full operation now, we're building about 60 units a day this week, so each day we're going little by little a little bit higher production."
One of the things I really like about the Passat is its ability to get up and go. I'm test driving the TDI Clean Diesel, and even though it has less horse power than the v6 or even the standard engine, it can still pull some pretty large hills. I'm not the only one who enjoyed driving the Chattanooga crafted car. Motor Trend named the Passat its "Car of the year." Angus McKenzie of Motor Trend Magazine, says "most striking was when those guys got out of the Passat was they couldn't believe how good the car was. Chris Theodore got out and looked at me and said 'is this a ringer?' I said no, as far as I know this is how it comes off the line. He said well, it's damn near perfect."
Volkswagen ended 2011 earning Platinum LEED certification for its environmentally friendly plant, and landed a North American International Auto Show Car of the Year nomination.