This perk of a Volkswagen career puts employees in the driver’s seat

Photography courtesy of Volkswagen of Chattanooga / Volkswagen's Chattanooga-made ID.4
Photography courtesy of Volkswagen of Chattanooga / Volkswagen's Chattanooga-made ID.4

Michael Bromley is the proverbial kid in a candy store — and that candy store is the Volkswagen/Audi automobile fleet.

Bromley says he left a Murfreesboro, Tennessee auto plant a year ago and moved to Chattanooga to take a job at VW. He says one of the perks VW offered for experienced auto workers is an employee vehicle leasing program.

"I leased before," he says, "but I have to say I enjoy the VW program far better than the one I was in prior."

He says his first lease was an Audi Q5 sport-utility vehicle (SUV). He was eligible to return that Audi at 8,000 miles, so he says he turned it in and replaced it with a 2023 VW Golf GTI, a four-door hatchback.

"It's the funnest little car I've ever driven," Bromley says. "... I'm very pleased with its driveability. It's a fine piece of machinery."

Dustin Howes, who manages corporate vehicle services for the Volkswagen Group of America, says that of the 5,000 or so employees at VW's Chattanooga plant, there are some 3,000 drivers. That includes VW employees and eligible family members, as each employee can have up to four vehicles on account. Nationwide, Howes says, the program has about 11,000 drivers.

Howes says VW employees can lease a VW or Audi for a single monthly payment based on a percentage of the vehicle's sticker price. He says that single monthly payment usually ranges between $300 and $800, depending on the vehicle — and includes insurance.

"There's no down payment and no credit check," he adds.

And as of January 2022, Howes says, VW drivers in the program can opt for a rental if their leased vehicle is in the shop for any reason.

"That was a huge issue people had," he says.

"This is such a great perk," Howes adds, "because (VW employees can) experience all different types of vehicles and not have to worry about things like down payments and insurance. And there's the pride you take in driving a vehicle made by the company where you work."

Howes says VW's Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs are popular lease choices for workers at the Chattanooga plant, but a lot of first-timers go for the Audi A4 sedan or the S4, its sportier sibling.

Bromley says he's about 5,000 miles into his current lease and already thinking about what's next.

"Well, we build the (electric) ID4 here, so I'm really leaning that way," he says. "I've been able to drive those around the plant, but I'm curious to see how it'll do on the open road in the real world."

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