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Volkswagen has begun a new work schedule at its Chattanooga assembly plant, operating six days a week and involving three teams of production employees.

The plant will operate for nearly 20 hours each day, as the facility ramps up to 3,500 workers by the end of the year. The German automaker has reached 3,350 workers.

Workers' preferences were taken into account for scheduling details ranging from break times to when shifts will start and end.

Frank Fischer, chief executive of VW's Chattanooga operations, told the Associated Press the new shift model was patterned on the practices of other auto manufacturers.

The automaker said the new schedule is designed to maximize plant operations while also striking a family-work balance.

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