Tennessee plant in lead to build new VW crossover: U.S. VW executive

Tue Sep 17, 2013 3:14pm EDT
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By Bernie Woodall

DETROIT (Reuters) - Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) is leaning toward building a seven-passenger crossover utility vehicle at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, rather than at its facility in Puebla in Mexico, a U.S. executive of the German automaker said on Tuesday.

Marc Trahan, executive vice president for U.S. quality, said cost will be the primary factor in the final decision.

The decision will be made by the end of the year, he told reporters after a speech to the Automotive Press Association in Detroit.

Trahan said the Chattanooga plant, which now builds the compact Passat sedan and opened in 2011, was made to produce more than one vehicle.

Adding another vehicle to the plant's output is a given, he said. "It's not a question of if, it's only a question of when and what," he said.

While he said VW has not yet made a decision, when asked which of the two plants was in the lead to build the seven-passenger crossover utility vehicle, he said, "Chattanooga."

Trahan would not say whether an effort by the United Auto Workers union to represent the 2,500 workers at Chattanooga would influence the final decision.

Volkswagen has told its workers in Chattanooga that it is in talks with the UAW regarding placing a German-style worker representation model, which would include both blue- and white-collar workers, at the plant. The issue is divisive among the workforce, and many Tennessee politicians have been vocal in their opposition to the UAW being involved at Chattanooga.   Continued...

Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board, Volkswagen Brand, speaks next to the 2014 Touran Cross Blue at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan January 14, 2013. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook