Despite enduring a lot of negative news about the economy in the United States, manufacturing is at an all-time high. Thanks to favorable exchange rates and a better wage situation, factories in the U.S (particularly in the car industry) are humming right along. To produce the new Passat, Volkswagen built a whole new facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The plant opened in May 2011.
The Passat won Motor Trend’s 2012 Car of the Year award and is a key element of VW’s world domination plans (no, really!). VW has just announced it is adding 800 new workers at the plant, in addition to the 200 new positions announced earlier this year. By the end of 2012, the Chattanooga plant will employ 3,500 workers.
VW originally promised to hire 2,000 workers when it announced the plant in July 2008. Volkswagen says the hirings are due to better-than-expected demand. Via Automotive News: “We’re adding a third team at this plant for a simple reason,” says Jonathan Browning, Chief Executive Officer of VW Group of America. “Customers want to buy Passats.” Maybe they’re seeing something we don’t, but Passat sales are slowly ramping up. Last month, 8,189 were sold – which if you extrapolated that out for the whole year, would places year-end sales at around 100,000 units.
The year-end tally is likely to come in a bit higher than that, but still far below the pace set by the segment’s top competitors. For instance the mid-size top three is currently made up of the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion. They clock in at 34,542, 32,953 and 21,773 units respectively. The Passat’s total nets it an eight-place finish. Not exactly tearing up the sales charts. Despite a slow ramp up, VW plans to build 170,000 Passats a year by 2013, up from 150,000 units. The new additions mean Chattanooga will be running 10 hours a day, six days per week per shift.