CHATTANOOGA (AP) - Volkswagen loaded the first rail shipment of 2012 Passats built at the automaker's new plant in Chattanooga, and a spokesman said Wednesday they are destined for dealers who will show them off to prospective customers until selling starts in late September.

Kevin Charlet, the VW plant's manager of outbound vehicles, said as drivers steered the Passats onto train cars Wednesday that "it's a big day for all of us."

The plant plans to build 150,000 Passats annually.

Charlet said the shipment was destined for dealers in California, Washington and Colorado for test drives and displays until selling to customers starts.

VW Chattanooga spokesman Guenther Scherelis said 85 percent of the Passats will be shipped by rail.