The midsize sedan Volks-wagen will produce in Chattanooga drew an early thumbs up Thursday after suppliers were given a sneak peek, company officials said.
Meeting with a group of VW suppliers at the Chattanooga Convention Center, officials showed off a test version of the car amid tight security, said Frank Fischer, chief executive of the automaker’s Chattanooga operations.
“I saw a lot of smiles and enthusiasm ... a lot of excitement,” he said.
The car was secreted into the Convention Center and put in a room away from the more than 200 people who represented about 150 of the parts suppliers to the vehicle.
Fischer said small groups were permitted to check out the car at a time to ensure no pictures were taken of the sedan that will be all-new to the American market.
“Security was all over the place,” he said.
Thomas Loafman, Volks-wagen Group of America’s director of purchasing, said in many ways “there were a lot of parents in that room.”
“They got to see it and touch it,” he said.
Volkswagen officials today are expected to name the newest company to join the supplier park next to the automaker’s assembly plant. Five companies are park tenants so far.
Fischer said the meetings with the suppliers, many of them CEOs of their companies, were to stress quality.
“We want them to buy into the process,” he said.
Loafman said all the suppliers are new to VW Group of America, since the Chattanooga assembly plant to be up and running early next year will be the carmaker’s only one in the United States.
“Quality is No. 1,” he said. “They have to achieve the highest level of quality right from the start.”
The $1 billion assembly plant is slated to produce 150,000 vehicles a year and employ more than 2,000 people.
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 ...