Good news, Tennessee: Volkswagen is investing about one billion US dollars in the development of its manufacturing facility in Chattanooga. (Yes, that’s billion, with a ‘b.’) The plant produces the Passat, and already employs 1,700 people; 10,000 additional jobs are expected to be created via the U.S. component supply industry.
Construction on the plant started in 2009, and was recently inaugurated at a ceremony attended by such luminaries as Dr. Klaus Scharioth, German Ambassador to the United States; Bill Haslam, Governor of Tennessee; Jonathan Browning, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America; U.S. Senators Robert Corker and Lamar Alexander; Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft: and the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
All of which may alert you to the fact that the official opening of this plant is kind of a big deal.
“The Volkswagen Group has finally arrived as a local manufacturer in the United States,” said Prof. Winterkorn, in a statement. “We are proud to be part of this great automobile nation as a producer, an employer and as a friend and good neighbor to people in the region.”
This plant, built to LEED standards, was designed to be among the world’s most advanced and environmentally friendly auto plants. One of the key features of its green operation is the use of a paint process with no filler, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by about 20 percent. The facility’s paint shop is believed to be the world’s first to use a waterless separation process for topcoat application; this, in conjunction with the facility’s rainwater harvesting system, reduces water consumption here considerably over facilities of comparable size.
This plant is also the first Volkswagen facility to rely entirely on LED systems for outdoor lighting; the production buildings and offices come equipped with energy-saving lamps controlled by motion sensors. These measures, taken together, make the plant’s overall lighting system 20 percent more energy efficient than a conventionally built factory.