At the grand opening of its new plant in Chattanooga, the German automaker presented the 2012 Passat on Tuesday as the key to building U.S. sales to 1 million units by 2018.
The factory has been producing cars since April and Volkswagen officials took the opportunity to show off both their German-designed sedan and the $1 billion plant.
But already, Vw is studying the possibility to build Audi luxury cars in the U.S. in addition to VWs, the company’s chief executive said on Tuesday.
Some analysts have mentioned variants of the Passat while others have cited a sport utility vehicle and potential Audi production. Winterkorn, speaking to reporters, said a decision could come within 12 months.
“Volkswagen is at home in America like never before,” said Michael Macht, Volkswagen’s board member in charge of worldwide production.
Macht said the Chattanooga plant has a critical role to play in rapidly growing VW sales in America.
Until then, the new Passat will go on sale in the third quarter for $20,000, about $7,000 cheaper than current models built in Germany, and close to competitors’ prices like the Ford Fusion, the Toyota Camry, the Honda Accord and the Hyundai Sonata.