DETROIT (WRCB) – The new Chattanooga Volkswagen is on the Cobo Center floor in Detroit behind large black curtains under a veil of secrecy.

More than two years after choosing Chattanooga to build its new midsize sedan, Volkswagen will show Chattanooga's car to Channel 3 and the Times Free Press on Sunday.

Our first crew left Chattanooga on Friday. Upon arriving at the Cobo Center in Detroit we saw lots of activity around the massive VW booth. Workers wore cloth shoe covers to keep the carpet clean. Organizers have been building this international auto show for three months. It will take just a week to break everything down.

Volkswagen officials will release video of the car on the eve of the 23rd annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit. VW has kept the lid on its secret for several months, not releasing the name of the vehicle or any image beyond an artist's sketch.

The auto show officially takes place January 10-23, 2011 but video of the VW car will be shown first at a private event to be attended by Channel 3 Eyewitness News and the Times Free Press. Several local and state officials who helped recruit the company to the Tennessee Valley will be in attendance, Channel 3 Eyewitness News has learned.

On July 15, 2008 Volkswagen first announced its plan to build a $1 billion assembly plant on 1,350 acres at the Enterprise South site between exits 7 and 11 on I-75. The plant will create 2,000 direct jobs and produce 150,000 cars per year.

On the day of the announcement Volkswagen CEO Prof. Martin Winterkorn said, "the U.S. market is an important part of our volume strategy and we are now very resolutely accessing that market."

 "Volkswagen will be extremely active there. This plant represents a milestone in Volkswagen's growth strategy. We will be selling 800,000 Volkswagens in the U.S. by 2018, and this new site will play a key role. This, along with our growth strategy, is a prerequisite for the economic success of the company in the dollar region. We look forward to establishing an important mainstay for ourselves when we become the biggest European carmaker there."

The car to be unveiled early next week is expected to compete directly with Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, carrying a base price of about $20,000. The new model will replace the current Passat in North America.

In addition to the NMS, the auto show in Detroit will debut 30-40 new vehicles from across the world.

Chattanooga's Volkswagen is expected to be available for purchase in spring 2011 as a 2012 model.

Follow @CallieStarnes @GregGlover3 and @ChrisBPhotos on Twitter for up to the minute updates including behind the scenes information.

Volkswagen in Chattanooga Timeline:

  • 7/15/08 VW chooses Chattanooga
  • 8/5/08 First hiring event
  • 12/29/08 Founding of VWGoA Chattanooga Operations LLC
  • 2/3/09 Start of Construction
  • 3/20/09 Philanthropic Commitment
  • 4/9/09 Raising first column
  • 5/14/09 Raising first wall
  • 10/6/09 First supplier integration day
  • 11/2/09 First installment in paint shop
  • 12/1/09 Second supplier integration day
  • 1/4/10 All buildings weathertight
  • 2/14/10 First robot installment
  • 3/6/10 First welding spot set
  • 4/22/10 First five suppliers for supplier park named
  • 5/15/10 First NMS body welded
  • 6/4/10 Opening Volkswagen Academy
  • 6/17/10 First NMS assembled in Chattanooga leaves for test drive
  • 7/15/10 About 900 employees hired