Chattanooga Was Designed to Grow, Says VW CEO

Volkswagen wants to build more cars in North America in the near future and looks increasingly likely that the way it will achieve that is through the addition of another plant in the US.

Reports have long been published about VW’s desire to build electric cars in North America, but it would never commit to adding capacity to its American, Chattanooga plant, rather than its Mexican, Puebla plant.

New comments from VW’s CEO, Herbert Diess, made to Automotive News, though, suggest that the US production is primed to grow.

“We set up the plant in Chattanooga always with the idea to be able to grow it, to mirror it,” Diess said. “The plant is too small and we are considering different options; it might be electric cars, it might be a different derivative of the Atlas—it’s still open.”

The US plant has always seemed the likelier for this growth since it is a smaller plant and the company is trying to capture the US market. Additionally, on a recent trip to Puebla, we were told that the Mexican plant has very little physical space to grow.

Even with the departure of the Beetle, there won’t be much more room for production. The Beetle’s line—which was shared with the Tiguan—will simply be taken over by Tiguan production.

Volkswagen currently makes the Passat and the Atlas on the same line at its Chattanooga plant, though it had to be expanded for the Atlas to be able to join the line.

Volkswagen North America, under Hinrich Woebcken, was also clear that it wanted to build an Atlas variant, based on the Atlas Cross Sport concept. Woebcken, though, was replaced as CEO of Volkswagen Group North America by Scott Keogh (and kept on as an advisor). As was Matthias Erb, the North American region’s Chief Engineering Officer, who will be replaced by Wolfgang Demmelbauer-Ebner.

Whether or not the new executives will choose a different plan for the North American market, and its production sites, remains to be seen, but whatever the case, US production appears to be primed to grow.

[source: Automotive News]