After 23 years, Europe largest automaker, Vw Ag marks the grand opening of a $1 billion assembly plant in south-central Tennessee. The factory is scheduled to open today.

Ray LaHood, U.S. transportation secretary, is expected to attend the unveiling of VW’s first U.S. plant since it closed a facility in Pennsylvania in 1988 because of poor sales of the Rabbit.

Built on 1,350 acres off Interstate 75 that used to be the site of a government ammunition plant, the 2 million-square-foot Volkswagen plant employs about 1,700 people and is planned to have about 2,000 workers eventually.

By shifting production to the United States and using local parts suppliers, Volkswagen can guard against exchange rate fluctuations that can eat away at profit, analysts said.
The 2012 Passat will be roomier to accommodate American sensibilities; VW has promised a starting price around $20,000, which would make the midsize sedan far more competitive compared with its more luxurious but costlier predecessor.
While its sales are improving in the United States, it still is a relatively small player, with a market share near 3 percent, including its luxury brand Audi.
Volkswagen’s best-performing year in the United States was 1970, when it sold 569,696 vehicles and had a nearly 6 percent share of the U.S. market.


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