Frank Fischer, the managing director of Volkswagen’s only U.S. plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has been assigned the same role at the carmaker’s factory in Emden, Germany.

Fischer will be replaced by Christian Koch, a managing director at Volkswagen operations in Saxony, Germany.

Fischer was appointed head of the project team for the Chattanooga plant on October 1, 2008, and is credited with overseeing construction of the huge facility during the worst economic downturn in the U.S. since the Great Depression. The plant started production on schedule, and the U.S.-built Passat was named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year.

The Emden plant has approximately 8,600 employees and produces up to 1,200 vehicles a day, including the European version of the Passat midsize sedan. The Chattanooga plant builds the Passat model that is sold in North America.

The management change takes place amid an ongoing labor dispute at the Chattanooga plant, where workers narrowly rejected representation by the United Auto Workers in a vote last month. The UAW is challenging the results, claiming that Republican politicians like U.S. Senator Bob Corker meddled with the election by suggesting the company would expand if workers rejected the union. However, Volkswagen denied any link between the UAW vote and future production increases.

The National Labor Relations Board has scheduled a hearing on the UAW challenge in April in Chattanooga.


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