Volkswagen is having a bit of a tough year in America. As of June 1st, inventory for the brand stood at 105 days supply (third highest in the industry, behind Cadillac and Lincoln). 500 workers have been laid off from the Chattanooga assembly line due to slow sales of the Passat, while VW is offering 0 percent APR across the board. What VW lacks, according to dealers, is a mid-size crossover, something bigger than the Tiguan but less expensive than the Touraeg.
Automotive News reports that VW CEO Martin Winterkorn spoke to dealers at a meeting in the Washington, D.C. area, essentially promising them such a vehicle. Appearing with Winterkorn were the CrossBlue concept and the CrossBlue Coupe concept, two vehicles that are said to preview such a crossover.
As it stands, the big debate is over whether to build such a vehicle in Chattanooga, or in Mexico. Building it in Chattanooga would likely mean that those laid off workers would see the return of their jobs. But IG Metall, one of Germany’s biggest labor unions, and a big player on VW’s supervisory board, won’t approve plans for the new vehicle to be built in Tennessee unless workers are allowed to organize there.
There’s a lot at stake here. VW wants a product like this to be built at a factory of its choosing. IG Metall fears that a non-union shop will undermine other unionized VW factories in Europe. The UAW badly needs to organize a foreign plant in the South. Tennessee wants to uphold its reputation as a “right to work” state this is friendlier to business rather than organized labor. All this over a vehicle that many people reading this will immediately dismiss as just another boring crossover. Gotta love the auto industry.