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Staff file photo / A Volkswagen Atlas SUV is checked out by employees on the assembly line at the automaker's Chattanooga production plant.

The Volkswagen Atlas was one of the fastest-selling new vehicles in Chattanooga last month, joining three other SUVs and a pickup truck, a new survey that tracks auto sales shows.

The Ford Bronco Sport SUV topped the list of vehicles in high demand in the city in April, followed by the Toyota Tacoma pickup, the Kia Soul and Kia Sorento SUVs, and then the Chattanooga-built Atlas, according to iSeeCars.com.

Karl Brauer, the automotive research firm's executive analyst, said he's sure the Atlas SUV's origins in Chattanooga is "a huge impact."

"It's a desire to support the local economic and manufacturing base," he said.

A pair of Volkswagens also topped the firm's fastest-selling used cars in Chattanooga last month with the Jetta compact sedan and Tiguan SUV finishing first and second, respectively, according to iSeeCars.com.

"We're seeing a lot of support for the brand in the Chattanooga area," Brauer said.

FASTEST-SELLING VEHICLES

Top 5 fast-selling new vehicles in April in Chattanooga:

1. Ford Bronco Sport

2. Toyota Tacoma

3. Kia Soul

4. Kia Sorento

5. Volkswagen Atlas

Top 5 fastest-selling used vehicles in April in Chattanooga:

1. Volkswagen Jetta

2. Volkswagen Tiguan

3. Toyota 4Runner

4. Subaru Outback

5. Honda CR-V

Source: iSeeCars.com

But he said that no VWs finished in the top 20 fast-selling new or used vehicles in April at the national level.

The Chevrolet Corvette was No. 1 on that new vehicle list, while the BMW 2 Series headed the used car list, according to iSeeCars.com.

The firm measures the average number of days it takes from when a vehicle reaches a dealership to when it sells.

For example, the Ford Bronco Sport SUV took only 14.1 days to sell in April in Chattanooga, the firm reported. The Corvette took just 9.2 days nationally, while the VW Atlas took an average of 19.4 days in Chattanooga, the survey showed.

Brauer said the Atlas filled a need that Volkswagen had for SUVs in the marketplace.

"It represents what VW knew it needed to do," he said. "It had to jump in the SUV category with both feet in a big way."

VW has followed up the Atlas with a sportier version, the Cross Sport. Also, the company just introduced the Taos, which slots under the compact Tiguan.

Brauer cited the Atlas' large interior space, adding that it's easy to drive and manageable.

"I love the engineering capabilities within Volkswagen," he said.

However, due to the shortage of semiconductor chips, VW Chattanooga's plant will suspend assembly during the weeks of June 7 and June 14, the company said earlier this month. That includes stopping production on the Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport and Passat sedan.

VW's Chattanooga operations employ more than 4,000 people and it's hiring more workers to meet demand for its vehicles. Also, VW is investing $800 million to produce the new battery-powered SUV in 2022.

Tom du Plessis, Volkswagen Chattanooga's chief executive, said earlier that the plant likely will have its best-ever year in terms of volume assembly in 2021.

"We have really good demand," he said. "Current production is very positive."

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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