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Volkswagen: German automaker investing big in North America
Article Tools:  Print version
Sunday, March 27, 2011    |   
A sign at the entrance to the Chattanooga Volkswagen assembly plant is seen against the backdrop of the VW supplier park at Enterprise South industrial park.
A sign at the entrance to the Chattanooga Volkswagen assembly plant is seen against the backdrop of the VW supplier park at Enterprise South industrial park.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

BY THE NUMBERS

* VW plant jobs: 2,000 to 2,500

* Pay: Production workers start at $14.50 per hour, growing to $19.50 per hour after 36 months.

* Plant size: 2 million square feet

* Product: Passat midsize sedan

* Capacity: 150,000 vehicles a year

Source: Volkswagen

Volkswagen is investing $4 billion in the North American market, including $1 billion in its Chattanooga plant, where workers are assembling the German automaker’s all-new Passat midsize sedan.

The company’s aim is to nearly triple VW and Audi brand sales by 2018 to 1 million units in the United States. Such an increase would help Volkswagen AG dethrone Toyota as the No. 1 automaker worldwide.

In 2010, the VW and Audi brands sold 358,459 vehicles.

The Chattanooga-made car is larger than the old Passat and starts at about $20,000, according to VW. That compares to a base price of about $26,000 for the existing Passat.

Trevor Hamilton, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce vice president of economic development, said the unveiling of the vehicle at the Detroit auto show was “a historic occasion” for both VW and the Scenic City.

“It puts Chattanooga on an international stage,” he said.