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Auto blogSun, 26 May 2013 09:01:00 EST
It hasn't been without incident or union organizing drive, but the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, TN has built its 250,000 Passat in just a little over two years. The Night Blue Passat TDI with black leather has come just two years and five weeks after the first customer car came off the line on April 18, 2011.
In the last year the plant operated at the 150,000-unit capacity that it was intended for, but the downturn in Passat sales and subsequent worker layoffs mean it will be a challenge to repeat the feat. The plant does have the world's largest solar park, though, and you can't take that away from them.
You'll find the official hand-clapping in the press release below.
The launch of a new Volkswagen Golf is never a small thing, and things are already looking up for the subcompact hatchback after it was named 2013 World Car of the Year. While we've already seen the base and GTI versions of the next-generation Golf, now we're getting our first look at the sportier Golf R.
Although this prototype wears GTI lettering on the front fenders, it's more than just the roll cage and Sparco racing seat hinting that this is something a little more serious. Unlike the Golf and GTI, this car shows that the Golf R will continue to flaunt massive air intakes on each side of the fascia, and the rear of the car (though it's hard to see) has quadruple exhaust outlets. We still don't have an official word on power, but rumors indicate that the next Golf R could be pushing close to 300 horsepower, making it the most powerful production Golf ever. As much fun as we had during our first drive of the Golf R Cabriolet in the cold, snowy French Riviera last month, more power is a warming idea.
According to a report in Autocar, Volkswagen might have more in mind for the XL1 than mining it for advances to grace the next-generation Golf. Aiming to fight the Honda FCEV due for public consumption next year, we're told VW executives have put a four-door, four-seater version of the XL1 - it could be called XL2 - on the drawing board. The impetus is said to come from the top, with VW Group chairman Ferdinand Piëch intent on staying in the deep end of "super-efficent vehicles."
Autocar suspects the necessary changes could raise the weight of the car from 1,749 pounds to 2,068 pounds, which would make it four pounds less than the 2,072-pound Up! we drove a few years ago. Crucially, however, the mag thinks the extra capacity wouldn't change the two-seater's 310-mile-per-gallon rating, with tech tweaks and the aerodynamic benefit of a longer car offsetting the weight. Speculation is that the back seats would be staggered like the fronts in order to maintain the XL1's overall profile.
We recently heard about another XL1 variant that's gone off the radar entirely, the Ducati-engined XLR that we thought we'd see at the Geneva Motor Show and that was said to be going into production, so this one could go the same way. The biggest hurdle to making such an idea a reality, though, could be the price: the current XL1 costs 110,000 euros ($146,116). If VW really is going to compete with the Honda FCEV and the Toyota FCV - $70,000 in Japan - that might be where it wants to start.