The plant manager for Volkswagen’s planned Chattanooga facility said Thursday the sedan it will produce will be a little bigger than its current mid-size Passat.
“I really like the design for it,” said Frank Fischer, who also is chief executive of the production facility.
Mr. Fischer added that more than a dozen components for the car to be made by Tier 1 suppliers will need to be 30 miles or closer to the Enterprise South industrial park site to meet the just-in-time production process.
The company is planning at least one supplier park adjacent to the 1.9 million-square-foot, $1 billion assembly plant.
But Mr. Fischer said not all Tier 1 companies, which will supply components directly to VW, need to be that close.
In remarks to Chattanooga Rotarians, the plant manager said VW plans to place an order to raise the first building — the paint shop — within the next two to three weeks.
JUST IN TIME
Car components which may need to be made close to plant:
* Instrument panel
* Front end assembly
He said VW wants that building to be 35 percent larger than it had previously planned, with the cost in the “double digit millions of dollars.” Mr. Fischer said the paint shop will be large enough to handle some 1,000 vehicles a day, compared to about 560 under the first plan.
Don Jackson, the plant’s president, said it’s more expensive to expand the paint shop later.
“It’s a big commitment,” he said.
VW wants to aggressively expand its United States sales to 1 million a year, or more than triple what it sells now.
Documents filed by a consultant for VW for its air quality permit shows the automaker has a plan to expand its Chattanooga auto plant and production soon after the first cars leave the assembly line in early 2011.
The company has an option for 1,200 acres at the industrial park in addition to 1,340 where it is building the plant.
VW wants to double production from 150,000 vehicles a year to 300,000, and an expanded facility would have the potential to produce 595,000 vehicles a year, the documents show.
Mr. Fischer said that in addition to the Chattanooga plant, the automaker has assembly facilities under construction in Russia and India.
Mr. Fischer said the local plant is “a new standard for how we plan factories.”
He addressed the problems besetting America’s Big Three automakers and their request for federal aid, calling it “a difficult issue.”
“It has pros and cons,” Mr. Fischer said.
Tom Edd Wilson, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said the city was “blessed with great timing” in landing the VW plant this summer, but added that “we made our own luck.”
He said there were 306 locations VW could have chosen, but it picked Chattanooga.
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Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...