WOLFSBURG, Germany (


) --


reported record 2010 net income of $9.42 billion, making it the world's most profitable automaker, and it forecast better results in the current year.

"Fiscal year 2010 was the best year in the history of the Volkswagen Group," said chairman Martin Winterkorn, in a prepared statement. "Volkswagen already provided impressive proof of its robustness during the (economic) crisis and our group is now following that up by leading the field during the economic recovery as well.

The automaker said it expects higher revenue and profit in 2011, but "the continuing volatility in interest and exchange rate trends and commodities prices will weaken the positive volume effect."

In April, Volkswagen is slated to open a new plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., where it will produce the 2011 Passat for the U.S. market. The car was

unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January.

Volkswagen has said it hopes to sell 800,000 cars by 2018. The company is "writing a new chapter in our American story," said Jonathan Browning, CEO of VW America, at the auto show. "We are aiming to become a big player in the U.S. market."

The mid-sized Passat will start at $20,000. It will be "built in the U.S. with German values," Browning said. It will "meet the demands of the middle class." He noted that the car will also create 2,000 new jobs at VW as well as 12,000 new jobs at suppliers

Volkswagen's profits surpassed net income at


(F) - Get Report

, which made $6.6 billion;


(GM) - Get Report

, which made $4.9 billion and


(TM) - Get Report

, which expects profit of about $6 billion for the fiscal year ending March 31.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte


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Ted Reed