The Governor of the State of Tennessee, Phil Bredesen, and Professor Dr Jochem Heizmann, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG were be joined by invited guests to celebrate the erection of the first wall at the new US factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The plant represents a milestone for the Volkswagen Group in attaining its ambitious growth targets for the North American market.
Production in Chattanooga will commence in 2011 with a maximum annual capacity of 150,000 vehicles. Over the coming months, modern, environmentally-friendly buildings housing a bodyshop, paintshop, assembly and offices will be built on the site.
"Our own `made in America' car production is an important element of our growth strategy in the US market. The automobile will always be an essential part of the American way of life. Despite the present situation on world markets, the US will recover and Volkswagen will be ready when that happens," said Heizmann.
Volkswagen Group of America will invest one billion dollars in the plant and employ 2000 people. The Chattanooga factory will build a new mid-size sedan specifically designed for the North American market. Approximately 30% of these cars will be powered by Volkswagen's TDI Clean Diesel Technology.
With the construction of the Chattanooga factory, Volkswagen is also assuming responsibility for the environment. Apart from energy-saving ventilation systems, which compensate for fluctuations in outside temperature, the production halls will also feature efficient industrial lighting systems. Furthermore, Volkswagen has given an undertaking to plant a seedling for every tree felled to make way for the plant.
Volkswagen is also making a commitment to the people in the region. At the end of March, Volkswagen announced it would be participating in the "Partners in Education" program, contributing some $5.3 million over a five-year period. The partners are regional universities as well as vocational training institutions and local schools.
In 2008, the Volkswagen Group produced 6.347 million vehicles worldwide, some 66.2% of which (4.201 million vehicles) were built outside Germany. The Chattanooga factory will be the 62nd facility in the production network of the Group with its nine brands.
The goal of the Volkswagen Group is to triple sales in the USA by 2018 under its growth strategy. This strategy is based on the five pillars of product strategy, brand strategy, dealer network, organization and local production. The new strategic orientation coincided with the relocation of the Volkswagen Group of America headquarters to Herndon, Virginia, in early 2008.
In spite of the market downturn, Volkswagen grew market share in the first four months of the year by 43%.