Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen, today told reporters in Berlin that the auto maker will soon decide whether to build a midsized sport utility vehicle for the U.S. market. If the company moves ahead, its factory in Chattanooga will be in the mix, Winterkorn said.
Winterkorn in prepared remarks lauded VW's experience in building Passat sedans at the Chattanooga plant that opened last year and stressed that the US remains a pillar in the company's global growth strategy.
The $1 billion Chattanooga plant is expected to build 180,000 vehicles next year and has a maximum capacity of 220,000 in its current configuration.
Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant is stepping on the hiring gas with plans to add 800 jobs to the 2,200 that already are on site. The additions will bring the German company closer to a full three-shift cycle. The news comes a week after VW officials said they will spend $40 million on a distribution facility in Roane County.
Need more proof of the auto sector’s renaissance in America? Volkswagen is hiring another 200 people for its Chattanooga operations as it cranks up production by more than 10 percent. The car maker says it plans to take over a good number of people from the full-time pool of 500 plant workers technically employed by its staffing partner, Aerotek, which would leave that company to head out into the labor pool.
Volkswagen’s Chattanooga manufacturing plant has become the first and only automotive manufacturing plant in the world to receive platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.
Company officials announced Thursday the U.S. Green Building Council has awarded the LEED green building certification. Platinum certification recognizes the highest level of performance.
“Volkswagen Chattanooga’s LEED Platinum certification is the fulfillment of a promise that Volkswagen has made around the world and in this community that we will work in harmony with the environment,” Frank Fischer, CEO and chairman of Volkswagen Chattanooga, said in a release.“Our commitment to building a LEED certified factory began in the planning and design stages. I believe that this not only helped insure that we would achieve Platinum status, but was actually a very cost effective way to implement environmentally responsible building methods."
The ultra-clean paint shop alone will save 50 million gallons of water in 10 years.
Aspects of the plant that earned LEED recognition include:
· Superior insulation provided by six inches of mineral rock wool, resulting in 720,000 Kilowatts per year savings.
· Green power from the local hydroelectric dam
· Use of LED lighting on the exterior results in 68% less energy used, up to 262,500 kWh per year and a reduction in light pollution.
· Rainwater collected and reused to flush toilets and cool the welding machines
· White roof membrane is highly reflective, minimizing heat island effect by up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
· Natural flowing creeks to capture heavy rains and restore a natural habitat
· Low-flow water fixtures and no-touch sensors throughout the plant reduce water usage by 30%.
· Plant was built on a brownfield property with no destruction of untouched nature. Protected 100 ft. wide creeks and wetlands were established to create natural habitats with low impact on natural habitats.
The Volkswagen group is cranking out ever more vehicles but its top executives today told investors that rising commodity costs and a strengthening euro will cut into profits for the rest of 2011. The latter dynamic is one of the big reasons the auto conglomerate is putting billions into its manufacturing base in Chattanooga.
CNBC takes a look at 20 American cities that you don't want to live in, at least not yet. Based on City-data.com's statistics on the most "beaten-up, undesirable cities" in the country, CNBC asked "Best Places" expert Bert Sperling to discuss what's improving about each city.
Chattanooga and Memphis both made the list. On the bright side, Chattanooga has the new Volkswagen plant, a new chemical plant and the upcoming Amazon.com distribution center. On the negative side, Memphis has a high crime rate, high obesity rate and high diabetes rate.
For more on both cities and others, see the slideshow at this link.