Volkswagen's peak year for sales in the US market was back in 1971, when demand for the Beetle was still high and the company shifted nearly 600,000 cars.

By 1993, that figure had collapsed to just 50,000 cars.

Detroit motor show: VW NCC

Since then, VW has fought a battle with wildly fluctuating fortunes. Sales last year were around 214,000 units.

However, Stefan Jacoby, the boss of the VW’s US arm is confident that new products will drive VW’s sales up to 450,000 units by 2013 and 800,000 units by 2017.

One of the ways the company will do this is by opening a new factory in Chattanooga. This $1bn dollar investment will employ 11,000 people to build 150,000 of the company’s upcoming ‘Medium Size Sedan’.

The MSS will effectively replace the Passat and benefits VW in two big ways. First it will be less lavishly engineered than the Passat, losing the multi-link rear axle and will have a less extravagant interior treatment.

Secondly the car will be ‘made in America’, a big issue in a country of patriotic car buyers.