Volkswagen Chattanooga on track to hire 1,000 more workers and build electric SUVs, an official says
Volkswagen Chattanooga is well on its way to hiring 1,000 more workers next year to build the ID.4 electric SUV in the third quarter of 2022 and add a third shift, an official said Tuesday.
However, the semiconductor chip shortage that hit the auto industry is likely to curb expectations that the factory will set a new production record in 2021.
“We’ll end up with the second highest volume,” Tom du Plessis, President and CEO of the Chattanooga company, told a group of journalists who visited the factory.
While the factory’s hiring is ramped up to over 4,500, the plant is pre-producing the ID.4, the battery-powered vehicle that the company says will lead the automaker’s electric future in America.
The plant’s CEO said that an $ 800 million expansion of the plant to expand the body shop and build a battery assembly facility created “a very high level of automation.” The body shop has more than 400 robots that do repetitive tasks and “guarantee good quality,” said du Plessis.
The factory also conducts high-voltage training for workers, he said.
“Security, security, security,” said du Plessis.
Johan de Nysschen, Chief Operating Officer of the North America region of the Volkswagen Group, said the sale of the ID.4, which is now being assembled in Germany, is “a good start”. He added that the SUV was the No. 3 best-selling electric vehicle in August.
“We have a hopeless shortage,” said the region’s COO of the ID.4, which was launched in America in March. “We can’t wait for production in Chattanooga to go live. The market is ready for an accelerated introduction of electric vehicles.”
He said the ID.4 was “just our opening salvo” in the EV room in America.
“The ID.4 is the first of many EV operations for the VW brand and corporation,” he said, adding that the German automaker is providing $ 41 billion for battery-powered vehicles worldwide.
Switching to electric vehicles is good for business and the planet, said de Nysschen.
“You can’t separate environmental concerns and economic problems,” he said.
After the ID.4, so de Nysschen, the ID.Buzz will come onto the market. The buzz that is expected to be built in Germany is a nod to those who remember the VW Microbus, but an electric vehicle that “will attract a lot of newcomers”.
The Chattanooga plant also produces the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs, as well as the Passat, although assembly of the sedan ends this winter as the market continues to shift to crossovers.
de Nysschen said VW prioritizes the atlas when it comes to how the company divides semiconductor chips. He said the Atlas family is the fifth best-selling mid-size SUV in America.
Contact Mike Pare at [email protected] or 423-757-6318.