With the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show past us, it's time to look toward January's 2011 Detroit Auto Show.

Which should have a lot of interesting green cars, if early reports are any guide.

Never mind the debut of what's now called the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic (nee Aveo). One of the most eagerly anticipated cars is Volkswagen's all-new entry into the midsize sedan market.

VW will reveal the model name at the show--right now, it's simply called the New Midsize Sedan (NMS)--but it has a lot riding on this competitor to the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, and Subaru Legacy.

The company plans to be the largest car company in the world by 2018, ahead of Toyota and General Motors. To get there, it's erecting an all-new car assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that will be able to build up to 150,000 of the new sedans.

At an International Motor Press Association lunch yesterday in New York, VW of America CEO Jonathan Browning laid out the schedule for the 2012 Volkswagen "NMS":

  • January 2011: Global unveiling at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show
  • April 2011: Chattanooga assembly plant opens
  • June 2011: Each Volkswagen dealer to receive two early NMS models
  • Sep or Oct 2011: Sales of the NMS begin

The car will be bigger than the current 2011 Volkswagen Passat, a low-volume seller considered too small and too expensive to compete effectively in the high-volume U.S. midsize market. Spy photos and renderings indicate the new model's styling will likely be similar to that of the redesigned 2011 Volkswagen Jetta.

The NMS will have more interior space and a much lower price, and will be sold only in the U.S. (Europe will continue with a new Passat). A related vehicle to the NMS will be sold in China, however.

In other Volkswagen news, Browning revealed that the company will bring the hot-rod Volkswagen Golf R to the States as a 2012 model, and he announced a new high-end car stereo offering developed with famed guitar and amplifier maker Fender.

Watch GreenCarReports for further previews of the upcoming Detroit Auto Show. Media days at the show are January 10 and 11.