Volkswagen is to ramp up production of the New Passat in China as it aims to increase local capacity and its model portfolio in the country. The car, which is virtually identical to the new US-built Passat, entered production in China earlier this year.

Although no specific numbers are available for New Passat production, the news came as Volkswagen chief financial officer Hans Dieter Pötsch outlined his thoughts in Chattanooga that will see the automaker expand its activities to South and Western China.

The German manufacturer added it would invest a fully self-funded EUR14bn (US$19bn) between 2012-2012 and expects the market to expand by 69% from 17m to 29m units by 2018.

"The [Passat] vehicles look the same and have the same wheelbase, but for instance there is no diesel in China and they [have] got a different engine," a Volkswagen spokesman in Germany told just-auto. "Specifications are a bit different but mainly we are using the same size Passat for the Chinese market as well as for the North American market.

"Some [people] made it sound as if this would happen in the future - in fact the Passat is being built in China from this spring already. They are ramping up - it will become more volume over time - we don't share numbers before time."

Shanghai Volkswagen (SVW) currently produces engines and well as the following Volkswagen models: Passat Lingyu, New Passat, Touran, Tiguan (long-wheelbase), Lavida, Polo (hatchback) and Polo Jinqu (notchback), Cross Polo, Santana and Santana Vista at two vehicle plants in Shanghai and Nanjing.

The Skoda Superb, Octavia and Fabia are also produced at these plants. In
addition, SVW has technology and design centres.