It was either keep it or kill it.
Back in 2011, the Volkswagen Passat underwent a significant change. The North American and Chinese market version split off from the one sold in Europe. This former was designed specifically to cater to customers in those markets who generally favor a more traditional, slightly larger, and less sporty sedan. Built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Passat New Midsize Sedan (NMS) remains on sale and just underwent a redesign for the 2020 model year. It still rides on the same platform, though it has been heavily updated. VW, however, has only just now decided on concrete plans for the Passat's future, despite some company executives' desire to drop it entirely.
According to Autocar, the German automaker has given the green light for the ninth-generation Passat, due to arrive for the 2023 model year.
VW Group CEO Herbert Diess was reportedly unconvinced the Passat needed to be replaced, pointing to the popularity of the Arteon and future EV plans involving a production version of the ID Vizzion concept, pictured below. The European market Passat rides on the flexible MQB platform while the US version utilizes the PQ46 setup, which dates back to 2005.
To save on costs, the Passat will return to being a global model and will ride on an updated version of the MQB architecture that will be able to support both front- and all-wheel drive. Interestingly, not only are mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions planned, but so is an all-electric variant. It'd be fair to wonder if this move could backfire because a Passat EV could be an internal rival for the ID Vizzion.
Chances are the latter will be marketed and priced as a premium model while the Passat EV will offer customers a less expensive battery-electric alternative. This way, VW can continue to increase overall EV sales. VW designers have also largely completed the next Passat's styling and sources claim there was a focus on accommodation and load-carrying ability.
"With the Arteon, we already have a style leader in the segment," said a company insider. "This leaves the door open for the Passat to become even more space-orientated than today's model."
In Europe, both the Passat wagon and Passat Alltrack will return, and it's possible the Alltrack could be considered for the US as a potential Subaru Outback rival and/or less expensive Audi A6 Allroad alternative. We wouldn't be surprised to see the next Passat go on sale in Europe before the US, given last year's redesign.