VW jobs to pass 2,000 with new facility

VW jobs to pass 2,000 with new facility

November 12th, 2010 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Staff Photo by Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press Work continues on the market delivery options facility at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. About 120 jobs are being created to staff the facility where options such as spoilers and special wheels are added to vehicles.

The jobs count is growing at Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant, with plans to add 120 more workers and push the total to more than 2,000, officials said Thursday.

Also, the new midsize sedan made at the $1 billion factory will be test driven on city streets by VW employees in January shortly after the car is unveiled at the Detroit auto show.

"We want to make really sure it has excellent quality," said Frank Fischer, chief executive of VW's Chattanooga operations. He said the yet-unnamed car will go on sale in the second half of 2011.

The jobs will be added at VW's market delivery options facility adjacent to the main plant, Fischer said. The operation is where custom items such as spoilers or special wheels are put on before vehicles are loaded onto trucks and train cars for delivery to dealers nationwide.

A combination of workers hired by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics and Volkswagen Group of America, the Herndon, Va., sales arm for VW in the United States, will staff the facility, according to the carmaker.

Fischer said VW has hired 1,200 people so far with the rest to be brought on by late 2011.

Hans-Herbert Jagla, executive vice president of human resources for VW in Chattanooga, said the carmaker expects its head count to reach between 2,000 and 2,500 workers.

Also, he said, contractors hired to oversee and maintain the grounds and take care of the massive plant site will create more jobs.

"There will be a lot of people taking care of the facility and the land," Jagla said.

He said the new jobs announced Thursday will pay between what the automaker offers its workers and what supplier employees earn.

VW starts production workers at $14.50 per hour, growing to $19.50 over three years. Supplier company pay isn't so rich. In West Point, Ga., where Kia Motors late last year fired up a new assembly plant, one of its biggest suppliers began its workers at $10 an hour plus benefits.

Jagla said six to eight workers of the 120 will be VW employees.

Mayor Ron Littlefield said the VW project is living up to expectations expressed a couple of years ago when it was announced and the city, Hamilton County and the state offered incentives valued at over $577 million.

"It's just getting bigger and better," he said.