An auto industry analyst says Volkswagen could produce a small sport utility vehicle and Audis in addition to a planned new sedan at its Chattanooga plant.
“They will want to put three shifts at the plant,” said Erich Merkle, an analyst for Crowe Chizek and Co.
Jill Bratina, a VW spokeswoman, said the company already is considering adding production of a second automobile to the plant scheduled for Enterprise South industrial park.
Ms. Bratina told The Associated Press that Volkswagen, which announced its plant site selection just two weeks ago, is thinking about production of a second vehicle “in the foreseeable future.” She said the assembly plant is part of the German automaker’s “volume-oriented, forward-looking strategy” in the United States.
One auto industry analyst says Volkswagen could produce a small sport utility vehicle and Audis in addition to a planned new sedan at its Chattanooga plant.
Meanwhile, the state expects six to 10 suppliers eventually could land at Enterprise South. The addition of the top-tier suppliers likely would bring millions of dollars in additional manufacturing investment.
VW has said it expects to employ 2,000 workers and produce 150,000 vehicles a year with a capacity for as many as 250,000. It hopes to triple U.S. sales by the year 2018.
Mr. Merkle said VW has a small crossover vehicle planned for North America, and he would not be surprised if Audis are built at the facility, as well. Audi is VW’s luxury arm.
“They’ll want to use that capacity,” he said.
The sedan that VW has said it wants to produce in Chattanooga would be made specifically for the U.S. market, Mr. Merkle said. He said VW’s existing Passat, imported from Germany, is too expensive and doesn’t match up with Toyota’s Camry or Honda’s Accord.
The VW Jetta is a compact car more in line with a Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic, Mr. Merkle said, but it also is higher priced than the Japanese competition.
“Volkswagen is looking to develop a more mid-size car for the North American market to match up better in terms of size and in terms of price point,” Mr. Merkle said.
Regarding the potential suppliers at the industrial park in Tyner, EPB chief Harold DePriest recently said the city-owned electric utility already has begun preparing information for five automotive suppliers that might locate at Enterprise South.
Combined with other suppliers and spinoff businesses, Mr. DePriest said, the 2,000 jobs Volkswagen plans to fill in Chattanooga eventually could expand to 14,000 more jobs in the region.
Groundbreaking on the plant site is to start this fall with production beginning in late 2010 or early 2011.
Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...