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Production starts on the Volkswagen Atlas.

Volkswagen today marked the start of series production of its new Sports Utility Vehicle known as the Atlas.

The new vehicle, which will be sold on dealer lots next year, began rolling off the assembly line this week in Chattanooga as part of a $900 million upgrade to the VW assembly plant in the Enterprise South Industrial Park. The addition of a second vehicle production line in Chattanooga has boosted the local VW staff to 2,800 employes, or 400 more than the employment level last summer.

"I am very proud of the hard work the Chattanooga team has put in to bring the Atlas to series production," Christian Koch, president and CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga, said in announcing the new production milestone today. "The challenge of integrating a new vehicle line while simultaneously completing a major expansion of our facility was daunting, but our team stepped up to the task and now we have taken another step towards the market introduction of the Atlas."

The Volkswagen Atlas, unveiled on the Santa Monica Pier in October of 2016,  is a seven-passenger SUV that VW says offers class-competitive levels of technology and room, combined with Volkswagen driving dynamics and attention to detail.

"The Atlas marks a brand new journey for Volkswagen as we enter deeper into the heart of the American market, moving from a small-car brand towards a more family-friendly lineup," said Hinrich J. Woebcken, CEO of the North America Region, Volkswagen. "We are so proud that this vehicle was not only designed for the American market, but we built it in our factory right here in Tennessee."

The Atlas is built alongside the Passat at the VW Chattanooga assembly plant. The expansion added over 665,000 square feet to VW's Chattanooga plant, enlarging the facility by 26 percent.

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