VW's top global managers in Chattanooga today for strategy session

VW's top global managers in Chattanooga today for strategy session

September 22nd, 2011 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

A dozen big charter jets are parked at the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, having brought in VW managers worldwide for a managers conference in Chattanooga.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Martin Winterkorn is CEO of the Volkswagen group.

Martin Winterkorn is CEO of the Volkswagen group.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Volkswagen's top managers globally are slated to be in Chattanooga today and Friday for a high-level strategy session and to check out the German automaker's newest assembly plant.

Martin Winterkorn, the company's chief executive, said earlier that about 250 VW officials, managers and their spouses are to be in the city.

"We like the city. We want to show [the managers] what's possible in the USA," Winterkorn said in Chattanooga during the factory's official opening in May and who's slated to be here this week.

Frank Fischer, CEO for VW's operations in Chattanooga, said the group will discuss strategy. Also, they will tour the $1 billion plant that's now producing 250 to 300 all-new Passats a day, he said.

J.Ed. Marston, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of marketing, said there are no meetings planned with VW officials this time.

"It's an internal meeting for VW," he said, adding that local officials aren't disappointed.

"We have had many opportunities and continue to build our relationships with VW executives whenever we can," Marston said.

VW has built a temporary 60,000-square-foot structure for the meeting at the plant. Supported by 30-foot-high steel beams, the outside is sheathed in gray-colored material to protect people from the elements and allow it to be climate controlled.

According to VW, the pavilion is to be dismantled within days after the meeting. VW officials declined to say how much the pavilion cost, but said no public money was put into it.

Marston said Volkswagen has brought in officials to the city in an ongoing way.

"They stay in our local hotels. They make use of local services," he said.

Winterkorn said earlier that VW is "strongly committed to the U.S." One issue that has arisen in recent months is what vehicle the Chattanooga plant might make next.

Also, Audi officials have set ambitious growth targets for the rest of the decade both in the U.S. and worldwide, leading officials to say recently that the upscale carmaker needs North American production that it doesn't possess. Winterkorn said in May that a decision could be made within 12 months.

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