Volkswagen hints the next-generation Passat will be electric

Will it still be called a Passat, or it will become an ID?

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Volkswagen gave the American-spec Passat a new lease on life by updating it inside and out for the 2020 model year. The sedan will stick around in the foreseeable future, but a company executive said its days are numbered.

"The Passat is a car that has a finite lifespan in terms of our planning," revealed Johan de Nysschen, the chief operating officer of Volkswagen's American division, in an interview with Roadshow.

And yet, it's still too early to write the model's obituary. The team "finite lifespan" is vague, and it doesn't mean the Passat will give up the ghost in the near future. When it does retire, de Nysschen hinted there's a strong chance Volkswagen will fill the sedan-sized hole in its line-up with an electric model, a move which would fall in line with the unprecedented focus the company is placing on electrification in every market it competes in.

"It's probably a reasonable assumption that when this Passat reaches the end of its life cycle, its successor will probably not feature an internal combustion engine," the executive predicted.

Where this leaves the Passat nameplate is a little bit of an enigma. Volkswagen's electrification strategy calls for the launch of a full range of battery-powered models grouped under the ID umbrella. It started its offensive at the 2019 (and final) edition of the Frankfurt auto show by unveiling a Golf-sized hatchback named ID.3; it's notably not called e-Golf, and it's not related in any way to the new eighth-generation Golf. It stands to reason an electric, Passat-sized sedan wouldn't arrive in showrooms with an e-Passat emblem on its trunk lid.

It'd instead be an ID-something. Volkswagen hasn't confirmed plans to make an electric sedan yet, but the ID Vizzion concept revealed at the 2018 Geneva auto show and the ID Space Vizzion concept introduced at the 2019 Los Angeles show both explored what a four-door, low-riding member of the ID range could look like.

Viewed in this light, it looks like the Passat won't completely go away. The decades-old name might retire, but motorists in the market for a large, comfortable sedan will still have a Volkswagen to choose from.

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