Volkswagen’s US assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has now been operating for 10 years.
Job One came off line on 18 April, 2011, a blue metallic Passat SEL with 2.5-litre engine, automatic transmission, leather interior and 18-inch wheels.
The plant was built on ‘brownfield’ land previously used to store Army ordnance offered to VW by Tennessee as several states scrambled to lure the automaker and its thousands of direct and indirect jobs. State and local assistance included a spur (Volkswagen Drive) from a nearby main road and the plant site is also now home to VW R&D and engineering units and a supplier park. VW in turn offers local sponsorship and training at schools and colleges, with an eye on a local pool of future plant skill and labour.
The Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport have since been added to plant build schedules and over 1m units have been assembled as the plant readies for its first EV SUV, the ID.4.
VW Chattanooga now employs about 3,800 people directly. Over 900 workers who helped assemble the first Passat are still working there a decade later.
VW claims the plant is among the most environmentally friendly automotive sites in the US with a rainwater recycling system and a 33 acre solar park providing “a significant portion” of the plant’s needs.
Chattanooga-assembled vehicles have been exported to Canada, Mexico, Russia, South Korea and the Middle East.