Volkswagen has released this drawing of a production facility similar to what will be built at Enterprise South.
BERLIN — T-minus 10 days.
That’s the approximate countdown before construction should start on Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant, the plant manager said Wednesday.
“Everything is absolutely on track,” manager Frank Fischer said at a reception for a group of Tennesseans, led by Gov. Phil Bredesen, who are meeting with VW officials and seeking to land suppliers for the facility.
Mr. Fischer said work on the plant should start around Nov. 2, with cars coming off the assembly line in the first quarter of 2011. Equipment should start going into the facility as early as mid-2009 with that activity running until the second half of 2010, he said.
He estimated production at 150,000 cars annually.
The company also is seeking suppliers to make components such as the instrument panels, seats, cockpit and the front end, he said, businesses that could locate in a nearby supplier park at Enterprise South industrial park.
Jochem Heizmann, Volkswagen’s head of worldwide production, said the company is looking at elements such as spacious legroom and a double-clutch transmission to go into the new mid-size sedan scheduled to be built in Chattanooga.
In addition, the company wants to strengthen its dealer network and keep its price competitive to sell the car in the United States, he said.
When VW was looking at where to put the plant, it could have placed it in Mexico and it might have been cheaper, he said. But putting the $1 billion facility in the United States shows the company’s commitment to the American market.
Chattanooga turned out to be the best of all the company’s options in terms of infrastructure, logistics and quality of life, he said.
“This is the right decision,” Dr. Heizmann said.
He expects that 80 percent of the automaking materials at the plant will come from North American suppliers.
The Chattanooga plant is expected to employ about 2,000, but Mr. Fischer said that figure could go up a little.
“Research shows more jobs to come,” he said.
Officials estimate that thousands more supplier jobs will come to the area due to the plant.
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 ...