published Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

VW films at Chattanooga plant

  • photo
    Staff Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press Actors Danny Griego, left, and Mike Montana ride horses as a production crew at the Chattanooga Volkswagen auto assembly plant makes a film Monday afternoon for the Detroit Auto Show introducing the company's new car and new Chattanooga facility.

For a change, Volkswagen is trying to be what one official called “un-German.”

Readying for the public launch of its Chattanooga-made car in about a month, the company is using the most American of icons — cowboys — in a short film about the Tennessee plant.

John Lionel Bandmann of film maker United Visions said the piece will be shown at the Detroit auto show in January where VW’s new made-in-America midsize sedan will debut.

“VW is coming to America,” he said, adding the film will reveal the automaker’s “pioneer spirit.”

At the Detroit event, people like a show, Bandmann said.

“They don’t want basic information,” he said. “We’re not showing charts. This time, we’ll be a little different.”

On Monday, the crew was filming at the Chattanooga plant, where vehicle production is to start early next year.

A pair of actors were dressed as cowboys and riding horses with the $1 billion auto plant in the background. The crew had already been to Utah where filming began.

Guenther Scherelis, general manager of communications for VW in Chattanooga, said the idea is that the German automaker is at home in America.

“The key message is that Volkswagen is here and real,” he said. “The film will run continuously during the show.”

Also Monday, about 800 employees of the plant were filmed outside the facility waving to the camera and welcoming viewers to Chattanooga, Scherelis said.

“It was an impressive scene,” he said.

Bandmann noted that VW was in the United States over two decades ago when it had an auto assembly plant in Pennsylvania for about 10 years before it shut down.

“This time it’s for real,” he said. “Seeing is believing.”

VW is aiming to about triple U.S. sales by 2018 to 1 million units. The German automaker has set its sights on becoming the world’s No. 1 car company by sales and surpass Toyota within eight years.

The new sedan, which officials have said is designed with American motorists in mind, is seen as a key to growing VW’s market share in the U.S.

The plant is to employ between 2,000 and 2,500 people and produce 150,000 vehicles annually.

about Mike Pare...

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 ...

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Tax_Payer said...

Germans are extremely intelligent people, and have the smartest engineers in the world. Now they are embracing our culture as their own. Only if all nations will do this ...

December 7, 2010 at 5:40 a.m.
Beamis said...

Good luck trying to overtake Toyota with expensive to service, over-priced cars that rank near the middle to bottom in quality rankings. Years of producing dissatisfied customers will be a huge obstacle to overcome, especially as Hyundai, Kia and the Japanese Big Three continue to provide reliable and affordable automobiles to the consumer. Cowboys and feel good films are nice but the marketplace is where you prove your worth as a manufacturer, and VW still has a long way to go before it succeeds in this market.

Again, good luck.

December 7, 2010 at 4 p.m.
mrredskin said...

obviously Beamis hasn't seen the issues Toyota has had for the past 4-5 years in terms of reliability. VW even surpassed Toyota as the most valuable auto manufacturer a year or two ago for a short span. Look for them to own that again and, this time, hold on to it. If I'm not mistaken, VW has already overtaken 'Yota as the largest auto manufacturer.

December 7, 2010 at 4:57 p.m.
Beamis said...

"If I'm not mistaken, VW has already overtaken 'Yota as the largest auto manufacturer."

Not in THIS market. Again, good luck to them. I hope it works out and they overcome their problems. Most people I know would rather buy other car brands than VW. This could change if their product line improves. I wish them well.

December 7, 2010 at 6:27 p.m.
tifosi said...

We will do it.

December 9, 2010 at 6:39 p.m.
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