TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Volkswagen’s Chattanooga factory and the Passat that is built there have been called “a corporate success story for the brand” and “a local economic success story for Tennessee” by company officials.
According to a recent study by the University of Tennessee, Volkswagen Chattanooga has an annual economic impact of $643 million and has created 12,400 full-time jobs in the region.
Frank Fischer, CEO and chairman of the Chattanooga plant, highlighted his approach to the project during the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminar in Traverse City, Mich., this week. Fischer credited the company’s success by focusing on the “four pillars” of products, plant, parts and people.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished in Chattanooga, I’m proud of this car, and I’m proud of our employees,” Fischer said. “Building a brand-new car in a new facility with all new employees was a challenge, but the Chattanooga plant is a success story and we’ve only written the first chapter.”
The University of Tennessee research study showed that Volkswagen Chattanooga activities created 12,400 full-time jobs at Volkswagen, factoring in suppliers, and in the overall area economy was responsible for $643.1 million in annual income. It increased state and local tax revenue by $53.5 million annually.
The Chattanooga plant builds the Passat sedan, which now offers four engine options — the new 1.8 L TSI, 2.5 L gasoline, 3.6 L V6 gasoline and the 2.0 L TDI Clean Diesel.
Fischer said the Passat was designed for the North American market and has won numerous awards including the 2012 Motor Trend Car of the Year, KBB.com’s Top Family Car and was the highest ranked Midsize Car in the 2012 and 2013 JD Power APEAL study.
Volkswagen Chattanooga is the world’s first and only factory to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum-certified by the US Green Building Council. The factory consists of a body shop, paint shop, assembly, supplier park, technical center, Volkswagen Academy and solar park. The plant was a $1 billion investment and is capable of producing 150,000 cars a year, Fischer said.
More than 85 percent of the production materials and parts are sourced in North America, he added.
Currently, the Chattanooga facility employs 2,500 people. More than 37 nationalities are represented among the team members, and education levels vary. Team members were trained in Common Core, Production System, Fundamental Skills, Profi-Room and On-the-Job training, Fischer said.
“When Volkswagen came to Chattanooga, it was a promise between the company and the community,” Fischer said. “Since the announcement five years ago, that promise has built over 250,000 cars and employed over 2,500 people.”