The Volkswagen Passat is a large family car built by Volkswagen Passenger Cars through six design generations since 1973. Slotting between the Volkswagen Golf / Volkswagen Jetta, and the Volkswagen Phaeton in the current Volkswagen line-up, the Passat and its derivatives have been badged variously as Dasher, Santana, Quantum, Magotan, Corsar and Carat. In 2008, Volkswagen extended its range with the launch of the Passat CC, a "4-door coupé" version of the Passat. On January 9, 2010, Volkswagen announced that the New Midsize Sedan being built in Chattanooga, Tennessee for the North American market would be named the Passat.
The Passat was placed in the middle of the sedan/saloon market segment at its introduction in 1973. Sales of the aging Beetle were declining and larger air-cooled rear-engined models like the Volkswagen Type 3 and 411 and 412 were based on older technology. Following the Volkswagen Group's acquisition of Audi in 1964, Volkswagen used new engineering expertise to develop a modern front-wheel drive car with a water-cooled engine, and thus the Passat and Golf (the latter being introduced in 1974) were the first of a new generation of Volkswagen cars. The first Passat was developed partly from the Audi 80/Fox and, until 2005, the two shared a history. During its development phase, the Passat was designated internally as EA400 (Entwicklungsauftrag 400, or "Development Order 400"), and well before its launch, production of the Volkswagen Type 3 at the Wolfsburg plant had been stopped in order to free up capacity for the new car. Wolfsburg was able to ramp up production carefully: directly before Passat production started the lines were used to assemble small volumes of the car's Audi 80 sibling which had been launched a year earlier. The nameplate Passat derives from the German word for tradewind — and the period in its history when Volkswagen named vehicles after prominent winds, including also Golf (after the Gulf stream, Jetta (after Jet stream), and Scirocco (after Sirocco).