Regional Design

Volkswagen Passat Had a Unique History in the U.S.

Currently built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, model is about to end nearly five decades filled with ups and downs of all kinds

1974 Volkswagen Dasher Wagon

Dashing to America in the 1970s

Volkswagen lived the 1960s struggling to be more than a two-hit wonder: Typ 3 and Typ 4 offered a variety of body styles but never replicated the success of Beetle and Transporter, especially in America. The Germans would only truly be successful again in the following decade thanks to a smart management of the oil crisis started in 1973.

1978 Volkswagen Dasher 5-door
1982 Volkswagen Quantum Sedan and Wagon

Going beyond classic physics

Sadly, VW’s rivals were stronger. Japanese companies had a strong start in the 1980s and the local ones were doing their best to stay competitive — they even joined forces at some point. Replacing the Beetle’s derivatives with the Dasher and other water-cooled cars turned out not to be enough to keep sales the way they were in the early 1970s.

1982 Volkswagen Quantum
1992 Volkswagen Passat VR6 GLX

Global inspiration for the win

The affirmation of the previous paragraph proved true in the 1990s, since VW only got back on track in the region thanks to the latest Golf and Jetta. The big brother soldiered on by getting regular updates and, as those others, retaining the original German name. North Americans were feeling better about foreign cars by the time, which helped a lot.

1998 Volkswagen Passat Variant
2011 Volkswagen Passat

New Midsize Sedan

VW entered the 2010s with an ambitious expansion plan for the region which included building the Chattanooga plan and develop some models specifically for the local public. That becomes particularly important when we recall that the company’s last similar venture spent ten years costing a lot of money and destroying its cars’ reputation.

2016 Volkswagen Passat

Writer and future engineer striving to work with car design. If you like cars but not the stereotypes that surround them, give my articles a try.