Forced factory downtime can have long-term benefits.
The global semiconductor chip shortage crisis has struck Volkswagen USA. The automaker has just confirmed that production at its massive Chattanooga, Tennessee factory will shut down for two weeks starting on June 7. Assuming there are no additional delays, things will be back up and running on June 21. This means that during those couple of weeks output will be halted of the Volkswagen Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport, and Passat. The latter will be discontinued in 2023.
But VW isn't about to let a crisis go to waste. Instead of letting dust collect on the plant's machinery and many workers being sent home, upgrades will take place on the assembly line focusing on quality improvements and other related areas.
In addition, workers will continue training and preparation to build the ID.4 all-electric crossover. At present, the ID.4 is only built alongside its ID.3 hatchback sibling at VW's Zwickau plant in Germany. That means all ID.4s on the road in America right now are imported, but this won't last for long. Chattanooga will begin assembling the ID.4 in 2022 to cover North America.
VW knows it has to get everything right the first time regarding its first EV, so additional worker training and quality upgrades are essential. The factory is being upgraded in general for mass EV output; the ID.4 won't be the last battery-electric assembled there.
VW is adding a state-of-the-art high-voltage laboratory designed specifically to develop and test EV cells and battery packs. Additional equipment includes pressure testers, explosion-rated climate chambers, and a multi-axis shaker table, or MAST. The latter will be used to test the integrity of EV components in ultra-harsh conditions. The new addition should be up and running in the coming weeks, if not already.
What VW won't be making at Chattanooga are EV batteries. That job will be handled by South Korean supplier SK Innovation. It's currently building, in nearby Georgia, a new battery production plant that'll also supply Ford upon completion.