By on October 13, 2015

2016_passat_5397

According to one Chattanooga factory worker on the TDI Club forum, Volkswagen is ramping up production of the new Passat TDI despite not being certified by the Environmental Protection Agency regarding its emissions.

The new 2016 Passat, which will launch later this year, is equipped with three different engines — a 1.8-liter turbocharged and a 3.6-liter V-6 gasoline engines, and a 2-liter diesel engine. The poster said those cars already built and equipped with the TDI engine are missing significant portions of their front fascia as they come off the assembly line.

The Passats in question are missing headlights, grilles and front bumpers, said the poster.

From the poster:

Current production on the 2016 Passat is increasing at the Chattanooga plant. We are all confused as to what VW is doing. Initially, we were only building the 4 cylinder gas engine for the US market for California only. We were building the diesel engines for Canada only. We built a few 4 and 5 cylinder gas engines for Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Last week the day after the news broke that VW was pulling the request for certifying the diesel engines in the US, guess what happened? We started building the US diesel every 2 or 3 cars on the line. The difference is, the US cars are missing the headlights and front bumpers and grills. They are wrapping them and parking them in the outside lot. We increased production to 180 cars per shift, 2 shifts total.

We aren’t sure what the reasoning behind the US diesels are unless they plan on stockpiling them and getting certification approval at a later date. Either way, building only California gas engines only and none for the rest of the US is causing everyone to be concerned for our future here. We built 180 total cars on day shift yesterday (Monday).

We were told last week that the fix isn’t going to be easy for existing TDI’s. If the software upgrades don’t fix the emission problems we were told the other option might be a new engine install. Could be a very costly and difficult fix. Yes, we are worried about our future here.

So, with limited production of gas models for the U.S. and a ramp up of diesel production, it looks like Volkswagen is confident they will be able to sell Passat TDIs soon.

We’ve reached out to officials in Chattanooga but have yet to hear back.

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59 Comments on “VW Chattanooga Building Hundreds of Passat TDIs Without Front Fascias...”


  • avatar
    dtremit

    The Chinese market model has different headlights and a different bumper:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/66/Volkswagen_Passat_NMS_China_2012-05-06.JPG

    • 0 avatar
      qfrog

      Is the NMS sold in China made stateside or are they made in China? I would expect local production by somebody like FAW.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        Uh…yeah. Wouldn’t a U.S. built car get hit with like a 600% tariff if you tried to sell it in China? Nothing like free trade!

        • 0 avatar
          brucebanner

          Maybe installation of the front parts is sufficient to claim “Made in China” status?

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            That’s what I thought. If the missing parts are deliberate, then there has to be a reason to not put them on. Sending them to China makes a lot of sense, even if they have to pull a ‘Ford van-with-seats shipped to the US where the seats are dismantled to avoid the chicken tax’ type move.

            I wonder if VW thinks US sales are shot, and thus they are better off making cars for China instead of cars for the US that won’t move.

        • 0 avatar
          Loki

          I thought that the high import tariffs were only on vehicles with engines larger than 2.0L

    • 0 avatar
      linard76

      This is actually the current 2012-2015 NMS Passat. It’s quite popular in China and available with a few more features than its North American siblings including xenon HIDs headlights and LED tailights. Over here in Asia, they are most commonly equipped with the 1.4 TSI.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The Chinese-market model has a few more upscale touches that we don’t get, such as a powered parking brake with auto-hold (which, let me tell you, is a feature I really appreciate).

  • avatar
    sirwired

    If they planned to sell those cars in the US, there wouldn’t be any reason to NOT attach the front fascia and headlights.

    Sounds to me that they are preparing these cars for export to some country that doesn’t care, but to a market that has different lighting requirements (and it’s something that will conflict with the front bumper? I dunno…)

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      Sounds more like VW isn’t sure if the “fix” is going to really fix the issue. If a new engine needs to be installed (as like the original text said) then no reason to install the lights and fascia.

      In order to complete final testing of the vehicle the headlights have to be installed; they do a complete electrical test.

      If the car is slated for export they would built it as an export vehicle in the factory.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        If a new engine is going to be installed, there’s no reason to do a lot of things; there are an awful lot of steps that have to be completed after the engine goes in.

        VW has already stated that the current NMS Passat just needs a software update to be compliant, so it’s not that.

        And why do you think these aren’t being built for export? What makes an “export” vehicle different from one meant for the home market? All that should need doing is the aforementioned trim bits and telling the dash and infotainment system what language to use.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      sirwired, there are a couple reasons not to attach the front fascia and headlights. Suppose is VW plans to make a styling change to go with TDI upgrades, but neither is ready. Wild speculation on my part, but maybe VW is changing the TDI intercooler and/or front fascia design to reduce combustion temperature and NOx, but the new part isn’t ready. Not sure if Volkswagen could partly build cars in 2015, get certification for the 2017 model year, and finish building these Passats in 2016 as 2017 models.

  • avatar
    zip89105

    Sell the 2015’s at employee pricing and the inventory will be gone in a week. The 2016’s will be business as usual after that.

  • avatar
    zip89105

    A redesign for 2016 will probably add a place for DEF in that area.

  • avatar

    The EPA is currently spending millions on guns, ammo and armor.

    Something tells me VW may not be safe at all.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The world will be a better place if you stop reading InfoWars.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      This is a decent article on the subject and debunks things. Essentially the argument is scale in large ammunition purchases although it notes rounds will probably be stockpiled and used as needed. It ignores the fact fedgov can buy as much as it wants essentially and thus eat up ammunition supply but this may simply be a side benefit to their scheme not the primary motivation. Now why some Federal agencies have weapons is another question (also why are there so many federal agencies in the first place?)

      “But in the real world, ammunition is not divided up and handed out on such a basis. What is bought is stockpiled and then allocated on the basis of need. The DHS’s order is expected to last for at least five years, and it was placed up front primarily as a cost-saving measure.

      http://www.nationalreview.com/article/342161/great-ammunition-myth-charles-c-w-cooke

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Two phrases stick out: “…concern for our future here.” and “…worried about our future here.” I have to assume the workers know their employer better than we do, even if they don’t quite know what’s going on.

    Could Volkswagen shut down the plant and gradually retreat from the American market? Would they do that rather than pay a punitive fine? Where’s the Deep Throat to tell us what’s going on behind the scenes?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You read my mind, great post.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        Not to get too deep into conspiracy theories, but if I were Volkswagen, I’d start pulling the political cards: threatening politicians in any state where they have operations that they will close those offices if the politicos don’t pressure the EPA to start backing off, or at least negotiate more favorable terms. As far as I can tell this will effect jobs where VW has a big presence: in Florida, California, Michigan, Washington DC, Arizona; And that doesn’t even count the dealerships who will take it in the shorts as a result of all of this.

        • 0 avatar
          Secret Hi5

          I’m sure the congressmen from affected states are already doing what they can without any prodding from VW.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I would say it depends on the contributions. There are a lot of business interests in a place like California and there are a limited number of politicriminals with a lot of work to do.

        • 0 avatar

          Since VW already moved most of its Michigan based VW staff to Tennessee and their American HQ for Bentley from Auburn Hills to NJ, I doubt they’d have a particularly warm reception in Lansing.

          Toyota, which has a billion dollar R&D center in Ann Arbor, tries harder to be hometownish. At the NAIAS one year, VW brought in a Lufthansa catering crew to feed the media (notwithstanding Aramark’s exclusive pouring privileges at Cobo). When I asked if they were flown in from JFK in NYC, I was told, no, Frankfurt.

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          VW’s corporate presence outside of TN is surprisingly small. When VW moved their headquarters from MI to VA, they had about 1400 total employees there — about half of whom were callcenter workers.

        • 0 avatar
          mjrmjr

          Gosh, you seem so knowledgeable. Did you mistype Herndon, VA as Washington, DC?

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      1) Volkswagen WILL pay a fine. The blatant initial violation, coverup, and ineffective initial recall suggest that the fine will be big.

      2) It’s unlikely that Volkswagen would exit from the US market, but I thought that they might quit building diesel cars for the US for a while. Regulatory uncertainty and low gasoline prices reducing demand. This report suggests the opposite production plans from what I would have expected.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    It would seem that this batch of cars is being built so that they may be sold in the US or exported. That would suggest that they are building cars ahead of demand, which may mean that there will be oversupply soon enough.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Chattanooga isn’t close to any water they could ship them on, is it? They’d have to rail them to the Gulf? Or eastward to some port?

  • avatar
    mccall52

    Not sure how well it would translate to Volkswagen, but a common repair procedure on Audi is to remove the front bumper and pull back the radiator support for increased access to the front of the engine. Referred to as the ‘service position’. Perhaps some significant emissions related modifications are coming down the pipe?

  • avatar
    mu_redskin

    There are lots of 2015’s at my dealer and they aren’t moving. I think there is about 4000 dealer cash and then the 2000 mea culpa cash and they still are not moving.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    If VW’s vendor didn’t deliver headlamps on time this seems entirely possible. Often the bumper is installed after the headlights go on. So if the headlights were not supplied by the vendor on time and VW deemed it to be better to build the cars and store them very near to completion for a short while while waiting for arrival of the headlamps I could see a bunch of similarly equipped cars being parked.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      That doesnt make sense. They are building gasoline powered cars intact (a few for the US, a few for export) and US-market TDIs incomplete. This suggests there is something going on only with the 2.0L TDI cars.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Perhaps this was the supplier’s response to VW’s request for a contribution to the $3.4B cost reduction target.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    It appears to me they are being built for export-China, Mexico, South America or other countries where air quality standards are either very weak or non-existent.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    why doesn’t he just ask one of his supervisors?
    In a car factory it is usually known where the cars go.
    If they export to different markets with different configurations, the workers usually know what it all means.

    If headlamps didn’t arrive in time or so, that doesn’t stay a secret. If they are export to china, that typically is known as well.

    Sounds like that guy is a fake, or naive. I doubt 1000 workers saw them and no one asked. I also doubt VW made up a BS story about “daytime only cars” when workers asked.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    It really sounds like leaving off parts to later install emissions components. When the simplest answer fits and isn’t all xfiles, I tend to lean onto it.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    At the moment, VW has only a 47-day supply of cars in the US – a healthy number.

    They could build unsold cars for quite a while before they have a glut. Then again, the Titanic floated for over 2 hours until the last part of it slipped beneath the water.

    But to the anonymous worker’s comment about job security – yes, I’d be worried, too. A lot of things are going wrong at once. I can sympathize with him, potentially suffering down in steerage because of the misdeeds of someone up on the bridge.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Maybe Toyota could buy up those unused fascias because, damn, their current Angry Fish front ends are SO bad…

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      There are a lot of fish-faced Camrys (Camries?) doing taxi duty where I live. They’re typically repainted in fleet colors (usually red), including the grille. The grille’s not so offensive once painted.

  • avatar
    brettc

    It seems like they are being built for export and maybe having a problem with their headlight supplier?

    In looking at the VW Saudi Arabia Passat brochure it looks like the SA Passat doesn’t offer LED headlights, which are supposed to be standard on the 2016 NA Passat. Also weird is that in Saudi Arabia, the only engine option is the old 2.5L gas engine. I guess they don’t need fuel efficiency when gas is probably 10 cents/litre.

  • avatar

    I’m guessing (and it is just that) that you can’t just stop the line. You have crates of engines…cars…everything is set up just so, you can’t change out and put, say, a 1.8 TSI in there. (Nope, not 1967 anymore)

    They probably figure they have to clear out the pipeline, so they are mostly building what they have even without all the parts. These cars will end up in a huge warehouse or under tarps. What VW does with them is anyone’s guess.

    Keep in mind the cost of production of a car is nowhere near what we pay after tax, title, markup, dealer, fees, etc……so each unit is probably half of the retail price (??).

    In any event, you have to clear the line of the TDi, so that is probably the answer.

    • 0 avatar
      cbrworm

      Yes, this is kind of what I was thinking.

      When I worked with manufacturing, it was not uncommon to continue to build and stockpile products even if there was no immediate demand. This kept workers working and inventory moving.

  • avatar
    FSICARBON

    My theory is they are going to sell these cars as 2015 MY vehicles. Possibly not sure about what front end to use. I was working at VW in 2006 when the emission laws were changing. VW produced TDI Jetta’s with the P.D. engine until the end of December of 2006, all of these vehicles were 2006 model year even though they were built at the end of December 2006. If I remember correctly there were no TDI Jetta’s produced for the 2007 and 2008 model year, 2009 the new clean diesel came out. VW produced enough TDIS to be sold well into the first quarter of 2007, even though they were technically 2006 M.Y.
    So maybe they are confident they can get these things certified as 2015s and have inventory to sell into 2016.

  • avatar
    jvossman

    dear VW, give me the 2.0TSI engine and we’ll call it even:)

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “Building Hundreds of Passat TDIs Without Front Fascias”

    They’re just making the timing belt and headlamp bulb replacement easier for the consumer.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Where’s the article lamenting the death of the manual transmission Passat?


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