Volkswagen has given the ninth-generation Passat a definitive go-ahead after more than a year of internal debate over the future of the German saloon and estate.
The decision comes after Volkswagen Group chairman Herbert Diess had cast doubt on whether the Passat would be replaced. He cited the increasing popularity of the similarly sized Arteon and plans to produce the well-received electric ID Vizzion concept in saloon and estate bodystyles from 2023 onwards as possible reasons not to continue beyond today’s car, which was introduced in 2015.
Set for UK launch in 2023, the new Passat will share its platform, drivetrains and electrical architecture with the Skoda Superb – alongside which right-hand-drive versions will be produced in a new greenfield factory to be established by Skoda as part of a major expansion of its production capacity.
The move will bring an end to the production of the Passat at Volkswagen’s Emden factory in Germany after more than 36 years, according to Volkswagen sources, who say the plant will be soon begin a comprehensive reconstruction for the electric-powered ID 4 SUV, which is scheduled to be produced there from 2022.
The decision to push ahead with the Passat will also end Volkswagen’s strategy of offering two different versions of the mid-sized model.
Currently, European versions are based on the MQB platform, while the Passat sold in the US and through one sales channel in China continues to be based on the old PQ46 platform, which dates back to the sixth-generation model introduced in 2005.
From 2023, however, all Passats will be underpinned by an updated version of the MQB platform used by today’s model and supporting both front- and four-wheel drive. It’s claimed to provide scope for not only an increased number of mild and plug-in petrol and diesel hybrids but also the packaging of a fully electric drivetrain.
The styling of the new model, known internally as the B9, has already been completed, say Volkswagen insiders. They suggest it will take on an even more versatile role, with accommodation and load-carrying ability high priorities.