Volkswagen Chattanooga Plant Builds 50,000th 2012 Passat image

Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant has already produced its 50,000th car.

VW announced late Tuesday that it built the 50,000th 2012 Passat, an optioned-out SE model with the 2.5-liter, 170-horsepower inline-five engine and a six-speed automatic transmission.

“An incredible amount of care goes into each vehicle we produce in Chattanooga,” Frank Fischer, CEO and chair of Volkswagen Chattanooga, said in a prepared statement.

“Producing 50,000 cars at this level of quality is a huge accomplishment for our team.”

Passat was completely redesigned and “Americanized” for the 2012 model year: Bigger, lower-priced, more typically U.S. features. The changes seems on-target. VW, in fact, is hiring another 200 people to work the line at Chattanooga so it can boost output to 35 cars an hour, vs. 31.

Leaders with VW recently announced that they sold more than 8 million vehicles in 2011, which exceeded many people’s expectations.

The company sold 8.156 million vehicles in 2011—a 14 percent rise over the previous year.

The plant completed its first customer car last April 18.