Volkswagen AG will enter a new segment in September when the 275-hp W-8 Passat goes on sale in Germany. U.S. sales will begin early next year.
The all-wheel-drive W-8 Passat is Volkswagen's first foray into the upper luxury segment. The United States is expected to account for half the annual volume of 10,000 sales.
Three other upper luxury VW models are due by late next year: the large D1 sedan; a full-sized sport-utility; and an exotic mid-engine sports car.
The W-8 Passat will be built in Passat plants in Emden, Germany, and Mosel, Germany, said Robert Buchelhofer, VW board member responsible for sales and marketing. The three other upper luxury models will be built in VW's much publicized 'glass factory' in Dresden, Germany.
The W-8 model will cost as much as $34,481 at current exchange rates in Germany. VW is confident it will succeed in the higher market segments. The carmaker sold 500,000 Passat upper-medium sedans and wagons last year, including 70,000 V-6 versions, which are considered premium models.
The carmaker has set a modest sales target for the W-8 Passat: 8,000 units in 2002 and 10,000 annually thereafter. Half of those are expected in Europe and half are expected in the United States.