Will the Passat propel VW to No 1? Fortune Features — Volkswagen Passat (North America)

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Volkswagen Passat (North America)

Will the Passat propel VW to No. 1?

5, 2012: 9:11 AM ET

With goals to surpass GM and Toyota by Volkswagen needs to win over American car buyers. The new Passat is off to a start.

By Doron Levin,

Volkswagen Passat

FORTUNE American car buyers and the motoring are giving a warm welcome to new Passat midsize sedan, the automaker’s latest salvo in a to pass General Motors and to achieve No. 1 sales status

November sales of Passat, was named Motor Trend Car of the Year following its introduction in barely topped 6,000. that number is less half that of the leaders in its it represents an impressive total to that of the previous, smaller and expensive Passat. The increase that VW buyers as well as of other brands are adding to their shopping lists.

VW sales overall were up 40% for the in the U.S. Passat was named a in the North American Car of the Year which will be decided at the American International Auto in Detroit on January 9.

Wolfsburg, Volkswagen’s goal is to lead the in unit sales of vehicles by which would require the to increase sales in all major markets. It is currently third in the and the top seller in Europe.

But the final numbers may show VW achieved No. 1 — at least — in 2011. Toyota year was hit by quality concerns in the and the March 11 earthquake/tsunami in Japan. The automaker’s goal is to have grasp on the top spot six years with sales of 10 million annually, compared in 2011.

goals are very aggressive, Michelle Krebs, an analyst for an automotive website. Next will be competitive in the midsize segment. Ford has a new Fusion, a new Malibu and Honda (HMC ) a new

Volkswagen Passat (North America)

One of VW’s weak spots is the where it holds a slim of the market, including its Audi franchise behind all major automakers and GM, Ford (F ) and Chrysler. But the also could be the place VW’s potential is the most

VW floundered for years in the American because it failed to convince motorists to buy models that engineered for Europeans. The new Passat, in a new assembly plant in Chattanooga, represents a fresh approach: cars specifically for American while retaining the flavor of engineering.

We feel very confident 2012, says Scott a VW spokesman. Between VW and Audi we end 2011 with slightly than 400,000 in sales. The VW goal in the U.S. is to sell 1 VW and Audis in 2018.

The Chattanooga with capacity to build Passats, can be expanded if sales of the grow sufficiently. VW could add U.S.-built model, a crossover, on the Passat architecture.

As for Audi, abound that VW is considering a site in Chattanooga or elsewhere, BMW and Mercedes, both of which vehicles in the U.S.

Audi is the most sought-after car in the according to Edmunds.com, and its dealer is at a mere 28 days. The challenge for is more production, says

Nearly every automaker in the states explicitly or implies it intends to grab a bigger of the market though, of course, an outcome is impossible for all to accomplish. In No. 1 status has been nothing but for Toyota (TM ) and GM (GM ). VW might want to on whether its scorched-earth policy is a one.

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