The Financial Times (London):
“(Volkswagen’s) supervisory board yesterday approved a plan to spend up $1 billion on a factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in a bid to catch up on its biggest rival, Toyota. Martin Winterkorn, VW’s chief executive, said it would play an important role in plans to double U.S. sales to 800,000 cars in the next decade. The first vehicle to be built there will be a medium-sized saloon (sedan) tailored for the U.S. market.”
“The first model to roll out of VW’s new U.S. plant will be a new, low-cost midsize sedan being developed specifically for the North American market. It is also likely that VW could re-establish U.S. production of the Golf in a bid to bolster overall profitability and negate the negative effects of the strong European currency against the American dollar.
There is no indication of whether Audi or Porsche will make use of the Chattanooga plant. Rumors have circulated that the VW Touareg, Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne models may be built in the United States.”
Detroit Free Press:
“While Michigan was named as a finalist (for the VW plant), many analysts said the state’s chances of winning the plant were slim from the start. In addition to lacking a competitive physical site, Michigan’s history of labor organizing and UAW-automaker battles makes it difficult to lure investment from foreign automakers, despite a deep pool of well-trained workers.”
“The (VW) decision was a major victory for (Gov. Phil) Bredesen’s economic-development efforts, led by Matt Kisber, the state’s commissioner of economic and community development, and the work of Chattanooga and Hamilton County officials, who began preparing the Enterprise South Industrial Park 12 miles northeast of downtown for such a facility about 15 years ago.
“Among the first vehicles expected to be produced at the Chattanooga plant is a bespoke midsized sedan tailored to the U.S. market. Automotive News reported that the new sedan will come to market for the 2011 model year and will be similar in size to today’s Passat. The new sedan, which is intended to take on the Camry, Accord, and Malibu, will be positioned below the Passat in Volkswagen’s model lineup. ... Bringing this plant online will help Volkswagen produce vehicles in the U.S. at a lower price, thereby raising per-vehicle profit.”
Mobile (Ala.) Press-Register:
“The day that Tennessee authorities began cutting down trees and grading land on 500 acres of former Army property in Chattanooga may have been the day that Huntsville lost its shot at a $1 billion Volkswagen AG auto assembly plant. The grading helped Tennessee overcome one of the advantages of the Huntsville site — that it was a flat, open field. It also emphasized that Chattanooga officials already controlled their site and had invested in other infrastructure there, whereas Alabama only had options to buy farmland. And it showed how badly Tennessee wanted the German automaker and its 2,000 jobs.”
Huntsville (Ala.) Times:
CHATTANOOGA — “Among the office buildings a few blocks from strolling tourists, talk turned to Tuesday’s surprise announcement. Coffee orders were interrupted with cell-phone chatter about “Did you hear?” and “Isn’t it great?” and “We got VW!”
“I have never seen an overall community reaction like this,” said Jessica Lacey, a barista at Chattz Chattanooga Coffee.
— Compiled by Mark Kennedy