Despite prospects of a big industrywide drop in new auto sales in the United States this year, Volkswagen will not backtrack on building its Chattanooga assembly plant, an official said Thursday.
“We are moving forward on the plant,” said Jill Bratina, Volkswagen Group of America’s director of corporate communications.
Also, Ms. Bratina dismissed a report the company plans to export cars it will make in Chattanooga. While the German automaker plans to export 125,000 units from North America, those vehicles will come from its Puebla, Mexico, facility, VW’s only other production plant in the region, she said.
A new presentation to analysts by Volkswagen at the Paris Auto Show this week indicates the Chattanooga plant is to produce 300,000 vehicles by 2018, which is somewhat higher than the 250,000 figure the company earlier used.
Ms. Bratina said the production numbers the company had used were early estimates.
“We have been talking about increasing production in the second phase,” she said about the facility to open by early 2011.
Also, Volkswagen’s subsidiary Audi is studying production in the U.S, and the Chattanooga plant could be an option for VW’s luxury brand.
U.S. auto sales, hit hard by the credit crunch, fell 27 percent in September nationwide and in Hamilton County, figures show. The industry could experience is worst sales year in 15 years, officials have said.
As VW moves ahead with its $1 billion plant in Chattanooga, local and state officials continue to press the recruitment of suppliers.
J.Ed. Marston, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s vice president for marketing, said economic conditions haven’t diminished that effort.
“We’ve seen no indication the credit crunch is impacting supplier recruitment,” he said.
Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen is leading a mission to Germany to woo suppliers in less than three weeks.
“The state is working very close with VW on suppliers,” he said in a telephone interview. “They believe in having suppliers close by.”
Gov. Bredesen said he wants to make sure the suppliers land in the Volunteer State and not in Georgia or Alabama.
“I want to turn a couple thousand jobs into 8,000 to 10,000 jobs,” he said.
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 ...