(TRAVERSE CITY) -- Volkswagen's Chattanooga factory and the Passat that is built there, have been a corporate success story for the brand and a local economic success story for Tennessee. According to a new study Volkswagen Chattanooga has an annual economic impact of $643 million and has created 12,400 full-time jobs in the region.
Frank Fischer, CEO and Chairman of the Chattanooga plant, highlighted his 'four pillars' approach to the project during the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminar in Traverse City, Mich. today. Fischer's pillars are products, plant, parts and most importantly, people.
"I'm very proud of what we've accomplished in Chattanooga, I'm proud of this car, and I'm proud of our employees," Fischer said. "Building a brand new car in a new facility with all new employees was a challenge, but the Chattanooga plant is a success story and we've only written the first chapter," Fischer said.
A recent University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK) research study shows that Volkswagen Chattanooga activities
· created 12,400 full-time jobs at Volkswagen, with suppliers and in the economy
· are responsible for $643.1 million in annual income
· increased state and local tax revenue by $53.5 million annually.
Products.The Chattanooga plant builds the Passat sedan, which now offers four engine options-- the new 1.8 L TSI, 2.5 L gasoline, 3.6 L V6 gasoline and the record-setting 2.0 L TDI Clean Diesel.
Fischer said the Passat was designed for the North American market and has proved to be of the highest quality, winning numerous awards including the 2012 Motor Trend Car of the Year,KBB.com <http://kbb.com/>'s Top Family Car and was the highest ranked Midsize Car in the 2012 and 2013 JD Power APEAL study.
Plant. Volkswagen Chattanooga is the world's first and only factory to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum-certified by the US Green Building Council. The factory consists of a body shop, paint shop, assembly, supplier park, technical center, Volkswagen Academy and solar park. The plant was a $1 billion investment and is capable of producing 150,000 cars a year, Fischer said.
Parts. More than 85% of the production materials and parts are sourced in North America. Fischer added that it is important for Volkswagen to have close collaboration and integration with the suppliers to track parts and receive continuous feedback about developing the products for the Passat.
People. Currently, the Chattanooga facility employs 2,500 people. More than 37 nationalities are represented among the team members, and education levels vary. Team members were trained in Common Core, Production System, Fundamental Skills, Profi-Room and On-the-Job training, Fischer said.
"When Volkswagen came to Chattanooga, it was a promise between the company and the community," Fischer said. "Since the announcement five years ago, that promise has built over 250,000 cars and employed over 2,500 people."
PICTURED: Dr Jay Baron, President & CEO Center for Automotive Research. Dr Jay Baron leads the Manufacturing, Engineering & Technology group at CAR. Dr Baron research has involved automotive tooling, vehicle assembly, and completive evaulation of technologies involving advanced light-weight material processing and business case assessment.
PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY ROBERT BENKO
Panel of Speakers, Dr Jay Baron reading questions from the audience for the speakers. From left to right. Dr Jay Baron President & CEO , Center for Automotive Research, Mauro Pino, Vice president, Vehicle Assembly Operations,and head, World Class Manufacturing, Chrysler Group LLC, Frank Fischer, CEO & Chairman, VW Plant Chattanooga, Volkswagen of America, and Kelly Biers, director, Continuous Improvement, Electronics, ZF North America, Inc