VW becomes a U.S. manufacturer
$1 billion Chattanooga facility to produce Passat, deliver 12,000 jobs to region
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood helped Volkswagen officials formally open VW’s new manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, TN this week. More than 2,000 employees are to produce up to 150,000 vehicles per year, with an emphasis on producing the newly redesigned Passat. The plant sets new standards in terms of sustainable, resource-efficient production.
Since construction started in 2009, an automobile plant including body shop, paint shop, assembly facility, technical testing center, academy for the initial and advanced training of employees, and a supplier park with eight companies has been built on a 1,400 acre site in Chattanooga. The VW plant already has 2,000 direct employees, and another 10,000 jobs will be created in the Tier 1 and Tier 2 businesses that will supply components to the plant. The plant also represents a $1 billion investment by Volkswagen I the U.S. auto market. VW hopes to sell more than 1 million vehicles in the U.S. by 2018.
"The Volkswagen Group has finally arrived as a local manufacturer in the United States,” said Dr. Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft. “We are proud to be part of this great automobile nation as a producer, an employer and as a friend and good neighbor to people in the region.” The event also was attended by Dr. Klaus Scharioth, German Ambassador to the United States, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. senators Robert Corker and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.
The new plant is in line with LEED standard, which lays down stringent provisions for the sustainable, environmentally compatible construction of buildings.
One of the key measures taken at the plant is the use of a painting process without any filler, which reduces CO2 emissions by about 20%. Water efficiency at the plant also meets the most stringent requirements. Volkswagen has built the world's first automobile paint shop to use a waterless separation process for topcoat application. Thanks to the use of collected rainwater, water consumption at the Chattanooga plant is also considerably lower than at facilities of a comparable size.
In addition, the U.S. plant is the first Volkswagen facility to rely entirely on energy-saving LED systems for outdoor lighting. The production buildings and offices are also equipped only with energy-saving lamps controlled by motion sensors. The entire lighting system of the plant uses some 20% less energy than a comparable facility.
- Edited by Gust Gianos, Plant Engineering, www.plantengineering.com
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After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.