Its fate is sealed.
It wasn't so long ago when we reported the Volkswagen Group had decided to green light production for the ninth-generation VW Passat. The plan called to see it arrive, at least in Europe, for the 2023 model year. Currently, Europe's Passat and the US version are built on separate platforms but this complete redesign called for a re-merging of those setups once again. But now we're hearing those plans have changed.
According to Ward's Auto, VW's Chattanooga, Tennessee plant, home of the Passat, will cease production of this midsize sedan in 2023. In its place, the focus will be shifted to the VW Atlas and Atlas Cross as well as the ID.4 all-electric crossover. At present, that new EV is only being produced at VW's Zwickau plant in Germany, but the automaker has long had US domestic plans in place.
The choice to eliminate the Passat was done for one main reason: free up ID.4 production capacity. VW is set to invest some $800 million in Chattanooga in order to prepare it for the ID.4. "We've made a decision to cancel the Passat for the U.S. The sales trend is very firmly in favor of SUV models, as indicated by the success of the (Chattanooga-built) Atlas," VW CEO Ralf Brandstätter says.
Despite its upcoming US market departure, VW is still proceeding with the ninth-gen Passat for other global markets, including Europe and China. The next Passat will ride on the MQB platform and is said to be larger than the outgoing generation thanks to a larger wheelbase which will also result in increased rear-seat legroom.
For its remaining two years on the market, the US market Passat isn't expected to receive significant changes. It just received a complete redesign for the 2020 model year (though its platform and 2.0-liter engine remained the same).
Fortunately, the report made no mention of the Arteon, which just went on sale in the US. Its future remains safe and it too rides on the MQB setup while America's Passat is built on a platform dating all the way back to 2005.