By on May 25, 2011


Yesterday, Volkswagen finally inaugurated its new plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee and ended the 23 year hiatus since its New Stanton, Pennsylvania factory was closed in 1988. At the Chattanooga plant, more than 2,000 employees will be able to produce up to 150,000 vehicles per year.

According to a Volkswagen statement, “the manufacturing depth for the Passat produced here will be at 85 percent” – meaning that 85 percent of the car will be produced at the plant itself. This is an unusually high number, especially considering that the statement goes on to say that “10,000 additional jobs will be created in the U.S. component supply industry.”

Volkswagen reiterates that it wants to boost “Group sales in the United States to more than a million vehicles per year by 2018 at the same time as winning a market share of about six percent for the Volkswagen Group.” To reach that lofty goal will need more than a new plant.

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26 Comments on “Volkswagen’s Chattanooga Plant Open For Business...”

  • avatar

    And, autoblog loves the new Passat. Much cheaper due to being built in the US, but not decontented.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    If the rear legroom really is what they claim it to be, I may have finally found a replacement for my SDL..

  • avatar

    Der Neue Passat TDI will be the biggest new diesel sedan available in the US, and you can have it with a manual. I wonder what percentage of Passat buyers VW expects will pick the diesel?

    Goes without saying, but I can’t wait for the TTAC review!

  • avatar

    Why did VWofA build a new plant down there? Isn’t the old Saturn plant available?

    I wonder if the cars built there will be better than the ones built in Pennsylvania years ago?

    • 0 avatar

      One would assume the plans for the plant began long before Saturn went under.

    • 0 avatar

      It may even be easier to have a clean start rather than inherit a 30-year-old plant from GM with who-knows-what environmental problems …

      • 0 avatar
        Steven Lang

        The Spring Hill plant is slightly over 20 years old and is quite a nice facility. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if GM ‘saves’ that plant and re-starts production in the next couple of years.

        If my weekly commutes were long-distance (800+ miles highway) I would have considered a diesel over a hybrid. I’ve had about a half dozen over the years. Hmmm… let’s see…

        1987 Mercedes 350 SDL
        1995 Mercedes E300
        1996 Mercedes E300
        1997 Mercedes E300
        1997 VW Jetta TDI
        198? Peugeot 505 Diesel

        Believe it or not, the Jetta was actually the best of the bunch for the money. The 96′ and 97′ Benzes were non-turbos and the 95′ was a pain to get parts for. Bought the Jetta for around $2700 from Carmax. Drove it for a few months and sold it for about a $4000+ profit thanks to a cheap trade-in on a Kia Spectra.

        I miss the car… but didn’t mind the profit. The guy who bought it took the rear and passsenger seats out and used it to go back and forth to a military base. He told me he was getting about 55 mpg with it.

      • 0 avatar

        We still lived in the St. Louis area when the Spring Hill plant was built, and a neighbor who was a GM worker moved his family to be part of the forming Saturn family.

        He was around my age, so I hope he got to retire before it was closed.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      UAW probably would have been grandfathered in somehow, is Tennessee a right-to-work state?

      (And it was probably cheaper to build new with all mod cons then refit an old plant)

      (ps: Passat wagon? OHPLZPLZPLZ)

      • 0 avatar

        Tennessee is a right-to-work state (Spring Hill notwithstanding). Nissan (in Smyrna) is non-union.

        I think GM is still using Spring Hill for something, not sure what.

        (All of this TN knowledge comes from my having grown up there, and lived there for about 30 years in two separate stints. The entire Saturn saga in Spring Hill, from mid-’80s political hype to site prep to production to “Saturn Homecoming” to shutdown of the brand, has taken place within my lifetime, in a shockingly short amount of time. Getting Saturn was a major coup at the time, though Nissan has proven to be a better long-term corporate citizen, I think.)

      • 0 avatar

        The Saturn plant in Spring Hill was UAW but by special arrangement. There were plenty of transplants who went there from regular UAW plants, I had a couple of acquaintances from Lordstown who ended up there. GM has a boatload of money invested in the plant, if they continue to expand operations, they may take it off the market. It has it’s own foundry and stamping plant alongside the assembly lines, they would be insane to not capture that kind of capability. They shed many of the old plants in the BK, they should hang on to the newer ones.

        As for Nissan being a good corporate citizen, I’d like to talk to what’s left of the West Coast staff that were told to move to Tennessee after their California facility was closed. From what I understand it was with little warning and few choices. As I recall, not many of the West Coast people decided to make the move, and several who did were later fired later anyway. There was woman who blogging about this and was sued by Nissan when found out, IIRC.

  • avatar

    The new Passat 2.5L inline-5 is a rebirth of the 1976-1982 pre-aero Audi 100 with the engine turned sideways … They even look somewhat alike.

  • avatar

    The new Passat is a nice looking car, except for the fake wood and the chrome strips. But I guess it’s nothing that a can of black spray paint and masking tape couldn’t fix.

    It’ll be interesting to watch and see how the quality on this model is. After VW’s Pennsylvania experiment, I wouldn’t buy one of these in the first year. And the lack of a wagon sucks too. It’s unfortunate that they dropped the Passat wagon and are just offering an Americanized sedan with your choice of thirsty gas engines or a TDI that unfortunately requires urea. But at least DEF/urea is available at Walmart now. And at least the non-urea requiring Golf TDI wagon is still available.

    • 0 avatar

      I thought the VW North America TDI used a lean NOx trap with high and low pressure EGR.

      • 0 avatar

        The Golf doesn’t need urea injection as it’s light enough — heavier cars (with higher fuel consumption) like Passat, Touareg and maybe Tiguan will need urea.

        Sadly there are not enough Mr Euros around for VW and other manufacturers to give a high priority to wagons.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t think weight has much to do with it – Ram 2500 doesn’t use SCR! I think the reason is more a hybrid matching / beating EPA on highways of 43 mpg [especially where they don’t include the cost of DEF (urea)] Hopefully the addition of SCR might help remove some of the other emission reduction technologies that hamstring the current Jetta

      • 0 avatar

        Aren’t HD pickup trucks subject to less stringent emission standards?

    • 0 avatar

      except for the fake wood

      It’s fake? Where did you read that?

      • 0 avatar

        The road test on calls it ‘copious amounts for faux wood-grain trim’. says that the wood isn’t overly fake-looking and later, calls it polished wood.

        I’m not sure whether this implies that it’s wood or plastic.

        I had a B5.5 Passat with real wood trim that has so much lacquer on it that it looked like plastic.

  • avatar

    One of the points of buying a VW is that you get the European look and feel of the interior, which is just different and some people like better. Doesn’t building VWs in Tennessee with American parts simply create a car that feels like a Ford then?

    • 0 avatar

      So…to follow the logic…a BMW built in South Carolina, or a Mercedes built in Alabama must feel like a Ford simply because it was built in America? Interesting theory.
      And can we please stop comparing the technology available to build cars from that of over twenty years ago? Never mind the actual technology of the car…a VW built in PA 20+ years ago and a VW built today in TN cannot be compared fairly. Heck, most people looking at buying a new Passat aren’t probably even old enough to really remember the VW/PA fiasco. While I’m no fan of the decontented variant we’re getting, I’m sure it’ll find a fair number of homes…

  • avatar

    But at least DEF/urea is available at Walmart now

    Wonder how expensive are they? Or something like check the gas just fill up the urea!

    I heard of the Mercs’ Urea is a dealer installed item?
    The jug is 100 another 50 to fill it. Just a different guy who does that, probably the same guy who suck out the porta toilets.

    When RR switch to Mineral oil for their brakes, hydraulic system, they also made it into a dealer item!

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