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2010 Volkswagen Passat: Volkswagen will not bring the seventh generation Passat, new for 2011, to North America.

Volkswagen

Volkswagen's new mid-sized sedan, the one to be build in Chattanooga, Tenn., will by all accounts be bigger and cheaper than the Passat it will replace. It might even be called the Passat, though John White, president and CEO of VW Canada, says the name won't be announced for months, yet.

By the way, VW will produce a replacement for the current Passat and sell it in other global markets. But the European-bred Passat is too small and too pricey to be competitive with mid-sized segment stalwarts such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion and Hyundai Sonata.

First Review: Roomy new small sedan priced right to compete in crowded segment, writes Jeremy Cato

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Prices for the Camry sedan start at $24,900, and the Accord starts at $24,790. The Fusion has a base price of $22,799 and the 2011 Sonata has a base price of $22,649. By contrast, a VW Passat with a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine starts at $27,775. Surely VW's new family sedan will need to start below $23,000 in this highly competitive segment - especially with thousands of dollars in discounts sloshing around the marketplace.

To get the price down, VW is going with a purely North American production strategy:

- VW will obtain at least 85 per cent of the sedan's components in North America. Local sourcing allows VW to avoid currency fluctuations that can drive up the cost of parts.

- VW will also share 30-to-40 per cent of the mid-size sedan's parts with the Jetta, which is built in Puebla, Mexico.

- VW's new mid-size sedan is also being designed with fewer frills. This car will not be aimed at a somewhat premium buyer with European sensibilities. Price-sensitive North American consumers will be served with a larger, but more basic car.

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About the Author
Senior writer, Globe Drive

In 25 years of covering the auto industry, Jeremy Cato has won more than two-dozen awards, including three times being named automotive journalist of the year. Jeremy was born in Montreal and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. More

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