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Volkswagen allegedly begins working on a more upscale Passat replacement

It will be offered with an electric powertrain

2020 Volkswagen Passat 1
2020 Volkswagen Passat 1 / Image Credit: James Riswick
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Volkswagen has given the on-again, off-again ninth-generation Passat the proverbial green light for production, according to a recent report. Developed for global markets, it will mark a big departure from the current model.

Although the company remains committed to the sedan segment, British magazine Autocar reported it nearly axed the Passat from its range. Executives considered putting the nameplate out to pasture to focus on the stylish Arteon, which is now offered as a station wagon in Europe, and on the upcoming production version of the electric ID.Vizzion concept introduced in 2018. Demand from China reportedly changed Volkswagen's mind.

Due out in 2023, the next-generation Passat will again be offered as a sedan and as a station wagon. It will be closely related to the Škoda Superb, though we don't know if it will keep the current model's trunk lid or receive its Czech sibling's hatch. Either way, it will be built on an evolution of the highly modular MQB platform, which is hardly a surprise considering the eighth-generation model sold in Europe already rides on these bones. What's interesting is that the report claims America's variant of the next-generation Passat will be built on MQB, too.

Whether the two models will again converge is up in the air at this point. Autocar learned the car's styling has already been signed off, and coexisting with the Arteon allowed it to move in a more practical direction.

"With the Arteon, we already have a style leader in the segment. This leaves the door open for the Passat to become even more space-oriented than today's model," a source inside the carmaker told Autocar

MQB is compatible with front- and all-wheel drive applications, mild and plug-in hybrid technologies, and electric powertrains; the outgoing e-Golf was built on the platform. An electric version is in the pipeline, according to the publication, which lines up well with an earlier report claiming the next-generation Passat will likely ditch gasoline-powered engines and go electric-only — in America, at least. Level-three autonomous technology and 5G connectivity will be available, too, though the model's level of equipment will vary from market to market.

All told, this unverified report asks more questions than it answers. Volkswagen hasn't commented on it, and it hasn't shed light on what the future holds for the Passat on either side of the Atlantic. America's Tennessee-built, 174-horsepower version of the sedan (pictured) recently received comprehensive updates which brought a new-look design, better in-car technology, mechanical improvements, and a lower price.

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