Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Volkswagen Group of America officials announced today the company will expand its sole U.S. manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Volkswagen will add an additional manufacturing line and create the National Research & Development and Planning Center of Volkswagen Group of America. The company will invest $600 million in this expansion and create 2,000 new jobs in Hamilton County.
See our previous post for the raw video of the entire News Conference from Germany
"Today is an exciting day not just for Chattanooga and Hamilton County but for all of Tennessee, and I want to thank Volkswagen for its significant long-term investment in our state," Haslam said. "The impact of this announcement goes far beyond the 2,000 new jobs because of the large multiplier effect of the automotive industry, and adding an additional manufacturing line and the National Research & Development and Planning Center sends a clear signal that Tennessee can compete with anyone in the global marketplace."
The expanded plant in the Enterprise South Industrial Park will manufacture a new automotive line, a seven-seater midsize SUV for the American market called the Cross Blue. Production of the Cross Blue will begin in the fourth quarter of 2016 with the first vehicle expected to roll off the new assembly line by the end of 2016. The expansion will also create the National Research & Development and Planning Center of the Volkswagen Group of America.
"The United States of America is and will remain one of the most important markets of Volkswagen. Over the past few years, we have achieved a lot here. We are now launching the second phase of the Volkswagen campaign in the USA. With the midsize SUV, the expansion of the Chattanooga plant and the new development center, we are focusing on the wishes of US customers," Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, in Wolfsburg said. "This is also a strong signal for the USA as an industrial and automobile production location. The Volkswagen brand is going on the attack again in America."
"I deeply appreciate Volkswagen's significant long-term commitment to the hometown and state that I love," U. S. Senator Bob Corker said. "I am grateful for Governor Haslam's steady leadership, for our mayors, our great community leaders and the workers at the Chattanooga plant, whose commitment to excellence helped pave the way for today's announcement. Finally, I am thankful to be able to help see this through to today's conclusion."
Corker added, "One of the most meaningful days in my public service career occurred six years ago when I received the call from the Volkswagen board room that they had chosen Chattanooga. Today's announcement is a similar high point, as VW's significantly expanded presence means that thousands more families will benefit from the good paying jobs being created at the plant."
"Hamilton County is pleased to partner with Volkswagen as they create 2,000 new family-wage jobs which will also generate very positive economic ripple effects for residents throughout our community," Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said. "By working with Volkswagen to build on the tremendous success of their initial job creation project, we are establishing a foundation for continuing economic growth for years to come."
"Volkswagen is one of Chattanooga's largest and most valued employers. They have brought 12,400 living-wage jobs to our region, employed Chattanoogans and helped build our middle class. This expansion will result in a huge capital investment and thousands of new jobs," Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said. "From day one, the city and county have worked hard to see today become a reality, when we can announce that Volkswagen will be adding more jobs, more investment and expanding their presence in Chattanooga."
"This announcement is great for Chattanooga and great for Volkswagen," Ron Harr, president & CEO of the Chattanooga Chamber, said. "Thanks to Volkswagen's expansion, we will have a much easier time recruiting additional automotive suppliers to help them build out their supply chain while also cementing Chattanooga as 'The Center of the Automotive South.'"
The state of Tennessee is providing a $165.8 million grant for costs associated with site development and preparation, infrastructure, production equipment acquisition and installation, and facility construction. In addition, the state will provide a $12 million grant for training new employees. As part of the incentive package, Volkswagen Group of America has agreed to waive its right to claim certain statutorily available tax credits directly related to the expansion.
Volkswagen Chattanooga currently employs 2,500 people. Hiring for new production positions will occur closer to the launch of the new product. The details of that application and assessment process will be announced at that time.
Immediate needs will center around professional candidates with skills in areas such as purchasing, logistics, engineering, and human resources to begin the preparations for the parts, equipment and people needed to produce the new product line. Interested candidates can search and apply for open positions online at vwjobschattanooga.com or on major online sites such as LinkedIn and CareerBuilder.
VOLKSWAGEN NEWS RELEASE
Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, in Wolfsburg said, aThe United States of America is and will remain one of the most important markets for Volkswagen. Over the past few years, we have achieved a lot there. We are now launching the second phase of the Volkswagen campaign in the US. With the midsize SUV, the expansion of the Chattanooga plant and the new development center, the focus is on the wishes of the US customer. This is also a strong signal for the US as an industrial and automobile production location. The Volkswagen brand is going on the attack again in America.a
aThe Chattanooga-built midsize SUV will allow us to fulfill the wishes of our dealer network, bringing new customers to our showrooms and additional growth for the brand,a said Michael Horn, President and CEO Volkswagen Group of America. aWe are eager to be entering this growing vehicle segment with a world-class, seven-passenger SUV from Volkswagen.a
Apart from investing in the production of a new vehicle, the Chattanooga location is to receive a new, independent National Research & Development and Planning Center of the Volkswagen Group of America for project coordination in the North American market. The objective is to identify customersa feedback in the market and to integrate them more expeditiously into existing and planned vehicle models. This will lead to the creation of approximately 200 qualified engineers working in Chattanooga. This decision is another element in the investment program that the Volkswagen Group has launched in the region. From 2014 to 2018, the Volkswagen Group will be investing more than US$7 billion in the US and Mexico. It is Volkswagenas goal to deliver 800,000 vehicles in the US by 2018.
"Today is an exciting day not just for Chattanooga and Hamilton County but for all of Tennessee, and I want to thank Volkswagen for its significant long-term investment in our state,a Governor Bill Haslam said. aThe impact of this announcement goes far beyond the 2,000 new jobs because of the large multiplier effect of the automotive industry, and adding an additional manufacturing line and the National Research & Development and Planning Center sends a clear signal that Tennessee can compete with anyone in the global marketplace.a
Christian Koch, CEO and Chairman of Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations, said: aWe are proud to be making the new midsize SUV here. This is fantastic news for the plant and proof of the confidence placed in the workforce that does a great job here making high-quality cars every day.a
At Chattanooga, the new SUV will be integrated into existing plant structures. Existing areas in production will be used for the assembly of the midsize SUV. A total floor space of 50,000 mA2 (approx. 538,000 sq ft) will be added to the existing production facility. The midsize SUV, which is based on the CrossBlue concept vehicle, was developed especially for the North American market. The CrossBlue made its global debut at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Today, Volkswagen also announced that the Chairman of the Group Works Council of Volkswagen, Bernd Osterloh, will join the Board of Directors of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. "We are pleased that Mr. Osterloh has declared his willingness to play a concentrated role in shaping our US strategy in the future. He will represent the views of the workforce. This is in line with the codetermination culture of Volkswagen, which is one of our key success factors,a Prof. Dr. Winterkorn said.
Osterloh stated: "It is important for us that our colleagues in the U.S. know that we also care about the production site and the employment in Chattanooga. I am looking forward to my work on the Board. I am determined to uphold the interests of Volkswagen employees in Chattanooga. The North American market offers considerable opportunities; in my opinion, these have not been pursued with sufficient consistency in the past. With todayas decision to produce the midsize SUV in the USA, we are taking a key step.
Source: WTVC News Channel 9