That swarm of brand-new Volkswagen Passats that blew past you on Interstate 24 last week is coming soon to a newsstand near you.
Automotive journalists from across North America were in Chattanooga last week for the media launch of the Chattanooga-made sedan. About 150 media representatives from the United States, Canada and Mexico traveled in waves from Chattanooga to Nashville to put the Passat through its paces.
While the new cars won’t start arriving at Volkswagen dealerships until September, consumers will be introduced to the car this summer through reports in car magazines and on automotive websites.
Some interesting facts:
• The diesel-powered TDI version of the Passat gets 43 miles per gallon of fuel in highway driving and has a cruising range of almost 800 miles. You could fill up in Chattanooga and drive to Miami on a single tank.
• The assembly line at the VW plant at Enterprise South is now turning out about 60 Passats a day. That number is expected to rise to 233 daily by the end of June.
• As a quality-control measure, the Passat assembly line shuts down if robots detect body-panel assembly is off by more than 1.2 millimeters, about the thickness of a dime.
• The larger, American-made Passat will not be sold in Europe, where company officials believe it would be considered too big for popular tastes.
Mark Kennedy is the editor of the Times Free Press opinion pages and writes the Sunday “Life Stories” column. He also writes a Saturday automotive column, “Test Drive,” for the Business section. For 13 years, Kennedy was features editor of the newspaper, and before that he was the newspaper’s first Sunday editor. The Times Free Press Life section won the state press award for Best Community Lifestyles four times during his tenure. Before Chattanooga’s newspapers ...