Volkswagen of America Execs Try to Accelerate New SUV Plans image

Volkswagen of America has already prepared a strategy on how to manufacture 100,000 more vehicles annually at the Chattanooga plant, part of the plan to offer American buyers a new SUV.

Although the SUV’s approval is no longer an issue of concern, there are still doubts that it will be manufactured at the Chattanooga plant. VW officials in Germany say that the final decisions regarding the new SUV and the plant where it will be manufactured will come by the end of this year. The new SUV is expected to be based on the seven-seat CrossBlue concept, which was unveiled at the Detroit auto show in January.

It is “a very well-defined product” at this point, said Jonathan Browning, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. “There are some elements of the business case and the manufacturing strategy that still have to be refined. But the most important thing — what the vehicle is, what it needs to do in the marketplace — is very well understood.”

VW executives in the US consider manufacturing the new SUV at Chattanooga, together with the Passat sedan, and increase the plant’s annual production capacity from 150,000 units to 250,000 units. But in order to build the SUV here the plant will need to have its assembly space and body shop expanded, add tooling for the underbody and upper body, and add a third shift.

“We are professionals. We are not kidding around. For every serious alternative, [there is] a real serious plan behind it,” said Michael Macht, the VW board member for production.

Source: Automotive News