CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Channel 3 Eyewitness News has obtained the first image of what the photographer calls the "test mule" for the new mid-size sedan (NMS) that Volkwagen will produce at the new plant in Chattanooga. The image was captured by zoom lens within the past few days in Germany as the car was being loaded on to a transporter.
The car in the photograph contains a sign in the windshield that reads "VW 411 NMS." The letters NMS have been publicly referred to by Volkswagen as the code name for the new Chattanooga vehicle.
We shared a picture of the car with a corporate official with Volkwagen who told us, "Unfortunately, this is not the NMS."
"This vehicle is built on the Jetta chassis which may also include some components of a new midsize sedan (NMS) being tested."
That means the car in the picture obtained by Channel 3 Eyewitness News does likely contain elements of the design. The car that will be built in Chattanooga before 2011 will go through other revisions before the final design is revealed. While it is not the actual car, it is what professionals in the industry call the "test mule."
The image does match the description our crew heard while visiting VW headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany last month. This car is the very first test mule ever photographed. A "test mule" is a vehicle equipped with experimental or prototype components for testing. Automakers will use the test car before a full pre-production is built to find problems. Test mules are drivable but are not the final version.
In contrast to most future vehicle plans, Volkswagen has openly mentioned the NMS and what they hope to accomplish with this vehicle, as well as required amenities.
Some of those remarks have included the following:
Large cargo / trunk area
More and super-sized cup holders (than several other VW vehicles)
ABS with front and rear disc brakes
Interface with various mobile devices
Six-speed double clutch (DSG) transmission or 5 speed manual
FSI and TDI powerplants
Possible AWD option
Initially, engines and transmissions will be manufactured in Mexico the same ones as found in the New Beetle and Jetta. This test mule as clearly seen on the paper affixed to the windshield is powered by VWs 2.5-liter I5.
In addition to the North American market, VW may be also developing this platform for the Chinese market.
About the photograph: WRCB-TV and Channel 3 Eyewitness News obtained the rights to publish the photograph from a nationally known auto spy photographer. Brenda Priddy has been featured in Newsweek, USA Today, Motor Trend magazine, and other national publications. This photo may not be reused on any other Web site. You may, however, link to the original WRCBtv.com article.