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Volkswagen Passat Production Pauses Due To Slow US Sales

Industry News / Comments

The redesigned Passat planned for 2019 can’t come soon enough at this rate.

While Volkswagen recently lifted the wraps off the new, spiced-up Passat GT scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in the second-quarter of this year, the sedan is showing its age since it first launched in 2011. The problem is that U.S.-spec Passat still doesn't ride on Volkswagen's MQB platform like the popular European model and the new Jetta. Instead, it rides on the aging platform that underpinned the previous-generation Passat. We expect this will soon change when the all-new redesigned Passat arrives in the U.S. next year.

Frankly, it's fortunate we don't have long to wait for the next-generation model, because sales of the current Passat in the U.S. have been on the decline. Data from Carsalesbase shows less than half as many Passats were sold in the U.S. last month compared to the year before, with 3,036 cars sold in February. 6,114 Passats were sold the same month in the previous year. These slow sales and higher demand for the Atlas SUV have forced the German manufacturer to pause production of the Passat at its Chattanooga plant for two weeks. Plant spokesman Keith King confirmed the news to Times Free Press, announcing that the factory will not be operating from March 26 to 29 and from April 2 to 5.

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"It's not a secret the market is shifting from sedans and passenger cars to family-friendly SUVs," said King. "It allows us to correct course a little bit." Atlas sales rose by 10 percent in February compared to January, with 4,766 units sold. The plant will remain open for training during the first week of nonproduction to train hourly employees and do some retooling to boost production of the seven seat, three-row Atlas. "Part of it is general retooling, preventative maintenance and just retooling for potential new developments," King added. The second week will be a mandatory planned shutdown, but no layoffs are expected.