The Chattanooga plant opened its doors a decade ago.
One decade ago, Volkswagen built a 2011 Passat SEL painted Night Blue Metallic with a 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine, automatic transmission, leather interior, and 18-inch wheels. It was the first car to be produced at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennesee. More than 10 years later, the US-based plant has achieved some impressive milestones. Some of the factory's biggest moments include building the 100,000th Passat in May 2012, the 250,000th Passat in May 2013, announcing the Atlas in July 2014, building the 100,000th Atlas in October 2018, and building its one-millionth car in June 2020.
Today, the Chattanooga plant assembles the 2021 Volkswagen Passat, 2021 Volkswagen Atlas, and 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport. In 2019, VW began expanding its US production center to include the capability for its electric MEB platform. Starting in 2022, Chattanooga will assemble US-spec ID.4 models.
"Our Chattanooga family began with the birth of our Passat," said Dean Parker, head of manufacturing at Volkswagen Chattanooga. "We all cheered as the first one drove off the line because we knew it was only the beginning. The successful launch of the Passat was greatly due to the hard work and dedication of this Chattanooga team, and it opened the doors for future vehicles like our Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport. Today, more than one million vehicles later, and as we are preparing to launch Volkswagen's first all-electric SUV, we take a moment to appreciate our success, as it all started with our Passat."
As a reminder, the 2011 Passat was a huge change for VW. Previous generation Passat models were imported from Germany, but the 2011 version was built specifically for the North American market and differed greatly from the one offered in Europe.
Though the Passat has an uncertain future in the US, the Chattanooga plant's role will evolve. This is one of the most environmentally-friendly automotive manufacturing sites in the US, with an on-site rainwater-recycling system and a 33-acre solar park. Over two years, the factory became the first LEED-Platinum-certified automotive manufacturing facility for its green building strategies. The plant employs more than 3,800 people directly, over 900 of whom helped assemble the first Passat in 2011.
Fun fact, VW used to operate a Pennsylvania plant in the 1970s and 1980s to build the Rabbit, including the Rabbit GTI. This was the first time a foreign automaker built cars in the US since Rolls-Royce stopped manufacturing cars out of Massachusetts back in 1931.