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Volkswagen Worried Europeans will Import Cheaper U.S. Passat

The 2012 Volkswagen Passat built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was designed and built expressly for North American consumers, but VW officials apparently fear the new car may be purchased and exported by Europeans looking for a sweet deal.

As we reported earlier this morning, pricing for the new U.S.-spec Passat starts at $20,765, including destination, making it one of the least expensive offerings in the midsize segment. A new Automotive News Europe piece says VW management fears European customers will see that price point, and attempt to ship the Americanized Passat abroad in an attempt to save money.

Presently, the European-spec 2011 Passat starts at €24,425, which, at current exchange rates, is around $34,610 — a far cry from the $20,765 base price of a U.S.-built model. This gap in pricing isn’t simply a matter of exchange rates: the U.S. and European Passats are actually two different cars. European models are heavily revised variants of the Passat that first debuted in 2005. The U.S.-car is all-new (and slightly larger), yet has been engineered to reduce costs.

So, could a European customer save money by bringing an American Passat to their homeland? Perhaps, but Volkswagen argues no, provided they properly import the vehicle. The company compared two comparably equipped Passats with the 2.0-liter turbodiesel inline-four. The American model costs $26,765 (€18,888), while the European model runs €30,100.

Initially, the benefit seems clear, but VW estimates that there would be a cost of about €15,610in taxes, shipping, importing, insuring, testing, and federalizing the U.S.-spec vehicle for the European Union. That brings the grand total of an imported American Passat to €34,498, €4398 more than simply buying one from a European showroom.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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