The Passat has been a relative success for Volkswagen in the U.S., but the company is already hard at work on a New Midsize (or mid-market) Sedan, not-so-cleverly codenamed NMS, to replace it. The final design has already been approved - prototypes were shown to dealers in Wolfsburg this week - and the new U.S.-targeted midize sedan will be bigger than the Passat but priced to start "around $20,000."

The news comes from Stefan Jacoby, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America in an interview with Automotive News. The car is designed with the American audience specifically in mind. "It will be bigger and sleeker, and it has items necessary for Americans - space, seat comfort, cupholders, Bluetooth and other electronics. Very importantly, it remains a VW. It has been totally designed and engineered for the needs of American consumers," said Jacoby.

Expected for a 2010 arrival, the car was previewed in February with an official sketch of the car's basic lines.

With a front end that's decided Scirocco-esque and a more angular and squared-off rear notch and shoulder line than found in the company's current vehicles, the NMS will certainly stand apart as something different. It may even preview the design direction of VW's future vehicles in America. The car will be built at the company's plant in Chattanooga, TN.

According to a VW presentation in Berlin late last year, VW's NMS has high design goals, including a wide range of standard safety and multimedia equipment, sporty performance, and fundamentally useful equipment like ample cupholders and roomy seating. In short, the car will be designed specifically for the tastes of North Americans.

Powertrains will include FSI gasoline units and later possibly TDI diesel engines, mated to a dual-clutch gearbox in at least some trim levels. VW expects about 30% of the cars sold to be diesel-powered, a ratio very similar to the Jetta TDI launched earlier this year and for the upcoming re-badged U.S.-market Golf. Efficiency will also be part of the focus for the NMS, as it would be reckless to disregard such an important market factor, but it is not the headline of the NMS thus far.

"It's not our philosophy to design a car for a market. This is wrong. A good tailor is a good tailor all over the world, so a good car is a good car," said VW Group head of design Walter de' Silva, reports Automotive News. "But the customization, the color, the tuning, the specialties, the accessories, the wheels — it's very, very important."

In 2008, during discussions about VW's new plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, some general details about the upcoming Passat replacement were disclosed, indicating that the NMS would be both larger and less expensive than the current car, the better to compete with its primary rivals, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, though the NMS will be built on an existing platform - possibly that of the new CC.

Last January the Passat CC, which later came to market as simply the CC, was revealed to the world, and has since been targeted as a particularly North American take on the midsize sedan, with VW expecting 60% of global CC sales to occur in the U.S. alone.