VW films at Chattanooga plant

VW films at Chattanooga plant

December 7th, 2010 by Mike Pare in Businesstopstory

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.