VW expanding in Chattanooga, hiring workers ahead of SUV production

VOLKSWAGEN CHATTANOOGA’S PLANT EXPANSION UNDERWAY
Feb 24, 2015

Construction Will Add 2nd Vehicle Line: New Midsize SUV

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Feb. 24, 2015) – Construction is underway at the Volkswagen Chattanooga manufacturing facility in preparation for production of an all new Midsize SUV. The first phase of construction started in early January 2015 and will continue for the next two years.

Volkswagen Chattanooga CEO and President Christian Koch gave a site tour to Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger on Tuesday, highlighting the necessary expansion of the production areas in the body shop, paint shop and assembly areas.

“This is a very exciting time in the history of Volkswagen Chattanooga,” said Christian Koch, CEO and president of Volkswagen Chattanooga, “A lot of hard work is going into adding this second vehicle line to the plant, but it is crucial to our efforts to move forward in America.”

A total of 512,886 square feet will be added to the already existing plant. The assembly, body and paint shops will each undergo a major expansion to accommodate the new SUV line.

“The all-new midsize SUV is a vital component in Volkswagen’s growth strategy for the U.S. market, meeting the demands of the customer and dealer network,” said Michael Horn, president and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “We’re thrilled that work has begun on the expansion of our US manufacturing home, Volkswagen Chattanooga, the facility that will be responsible for building the midsize SUV and home of the award winning Passat.”

The body shop will add additional space on the north and south sides of the plant, the assembly shop will expand to the west, and the paint shop will add a complete second automated production line. A new warehouse will also be built at the east side of the plant.

“We’re excited to see the construction under way,” said Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger. “This means jobs and opportunity for construction workers and vendors over the months to come. Ultimately this brings us closer to the day when Volkswagen will be hiring 2,000 workers to produce their new SUV,” Mayor Coppinger said.

“Not only will Volkswagen’s expansion create thousands of new jobs, it will strengthen their roots in our city,” said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. “From the construction at the plant to the development of a visitors center, there is no doubt that Volkswagen is invested in Chattanooga,” Berke said.

Soon the National Engineering and Planning Center will take up temporary residency in a building adjacent to the factory, as hiring for the more than 200 engineers is now underway.

Headed by Dr. Matthias Erb, the engineering and planning center will serve as a high-level research and development hub and will house product-related functions such as technical scouting, innovation management, and product management.

Also in the planning stages is the Volkswagen Visitor Center, which will be located 18 miles from the factory in Downtown Chattanooga and is set to open in Summer 2016.

Production of the facelifted Passat is scheduled to start in the summer of 2015. The new Midsize SUV, which was assigned to be built by the Chattanooga plant in the summer of 2014, is scheduled to be in production at the end of 2016.

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German judge ‘inclined to dismiss’ hedge fund lawsuit against Porsche

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Volkswagen sketches Geneva-bound concept

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Volkswagen taps Porsche chief for board

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VW recognizes second union at Chattanooga plant

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2015 VW Golf SportWagen priced from $21,395*

VOLKSWAGEN ANNOUNCES PRICING OF 2015 GOLF SPORTWAGEN

? New TDI® S model reduces base Clean Diesel pricing by almost $2,000

? Newly available driver assistance technology includes Forward Collision
Warning and Automatic Post-Collision Braking System

? Larger interior than outgoing Jetta SportWagen rivals compact SUVs for size

? Car will be offered with 1.8-liter turbocharged TSI® gasoline and 2.0-liter
TDI Clean Diesel engines

? Based on flexible Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) architecture, this new car weighs up to 137 pounds less than outgoing Jetta SportWagen

? As much fun to drive as a Golf with the versatility of a compact SUV

Chicago, IL (February 11th, 2015) – Volkswagen of America, Inc, today announced pricing of the all-new Golf SportWagen. With a starting Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $21,395 for the 1.8T S model with manual transmission, the latest SportWagen features more standard equipment, increased fuel efficiency, and more space than the outgoing Jetta SportWagen S model. The TDI® Clean Diesel model starts at $24,595, a reduction of almost $2,000 over the previous base TDI model price.

? Pricing starts at $21,395 for the S model with manual transmission: a content adjusted reduction of $700 over the previous base Jetta SportWagen

? TDI Clean Diesel model offers EPA estimated highway fuel economy of up to 43 mpg, beating all compact SUVs

??Scheduled to hit dealer showrooms in April, 2015 Golf SportWagen models will be offered with two powertrains: the EA888 1.8-liter, 170-horsepower turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder TSI® engine mated to a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission; ?and the EA288 2.0-liter, 150-hp turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder TDI Clean Diesel, fitted with a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The 1.8T model with manual transmission has an EPA estimated highway fuel economy rating of 36 mpg, while the TDI Clean Diesel model gets 43 highway mpg according to EPA estimates. These figures better all compact SUVs on the market, while offering comparable cargo volume-30.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 66.5 cubic feet with the seats folded flat.

?In addition to a long list of standard amenities, several new comfort and convenience features will be available on the 2015 Golf SportWagen including the Fender® Premium Audio System and Climatronic® automatic air conditioning. Newly available driver assistance systems include Automatic Post-Collision Braking, the Forward Collision Warning System, and front and rear Park Distance Control. An available lighting package includes LED Daytime Running Lights and the Adaptive Front-lighting System.

The Golf SportWagen has grown in size yet dropped in weight by up to 137 pounds (depending on model) compared with the Jetta SportWagen, despite a plethora of new and upscale features. Dimensionally, the Golf SportWagen has grown slightly, by 1.1 inches in overall length to 179.6 inches, and by 0.7 inches in width, to 70.8 inches. However, because the new car is 0.9 inches lower and has a 2.2 inch longer wheelbase, it looks more muscular and has a premium “cab backward” aesthetic.

?MODEL LINE-UP

Golf SportWagen TSI S

The SportWagen TSI S starts at $21,395 and features a standard turbocharged and direct-injection1.8-liter engine; 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels; Bluetooth® connectivity; a touchscreen radio; Sirius XM® Satellite Radio; a Media Device Interface (MDI) with iPod® integration; leatherette seating surfaces with manual lumbar adjustment; power windows; power door locks; and air conditioning. An automatic transmission is available as an $1,100 option.

?Golf SportWagen TSI SE

Available only with the six-speed automatic transmission, the SE starts at $26,995 and adds the following features over the S: 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels; front foglights; a panoramic sunroof; KESSY® Keyless access with push-button start; a rearview camera, and the Fender® Premium Audio System. An optional Lighting package is available for $995 and includes Bi- Xenon headlights with the Adaptive Front-lighting System, LED DRLs, and ambient interior lighting with LED interior reading lights. The $695 Driver Assistance package includes the Forward Collision Warning System and front and rear Park Distance Control.

Golf SportWagen TSI SEL

Building on the specifications and layout of the TSI SE, the top gasoline-powered SportWagen trim starts at $29,345 and adds: 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels; chrome roof rails; a navigation system; Climatronic® automatic air conditioning; sport comfort seats with a 12-way power driver’s seat; and ambient lighting with LED interior reading lights. The Lighting and Driver Assistance packages are available on the SEL as well.

Golf SportWagen TDI S

The line-up of Clean Diesel Golf SportWagen models largely mirrors its gasoline siblings in terms of features and packages. The base TDI S starts at $24,595 and offers a six-speed manual gearbox and 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels as standard, with a dual-clutch DSG automatic available for an extra $1,100. KESSY Keyless access with push-button start and a rearview camera are among the standard features.

Golf SportWagen TDI SE

Starting at $27,995, the TDI SE has the same list of equipment and optional packages as its gasoline-powered counterpart, the TSI SE, including the Fender Premium Audio System, automatic headlamps and a panoramic sunroof. The Lighting and Driver Assistance package are available. The DSG transmission is an $1,100 option.

Golf SportWagen TDI SEL

Starting at $30,345, the TDI SEL’s standard equipment mirrors the TSI SEL, adding features such as a navigation system, Climatronic automatic air conditioning, and sport seats with 12- way power adjustment for the driver. Both Lighting and Driver Assistance options packages are available on this trim. The six-speed manual transmission is standard, with the option of the DSG automatic ($1,100 extra).

About Volkswagen of America, Inc.
Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc., an operating unit of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VWoA) is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. VWoA’s operations in the United States include research and development, parts and vehicle processing, parts distribution centers, sales, marketing and service offices, financial service centers, and its state -of-the- art manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Volkswagen Group is one of the world’s largest producers of passenger cars and Europe’s largest automaker. VWoA sells the Beetle, Beetle Convertible, CC, Eos, e-Golf, Golf, Golf GTI, Golf R, Jetta, Passat, Tiguan and Touareg vehicles through approximately 651 independent U.S. dealers. Visit Volkswagen of America online at www.vw.com or media.vw.com to learn more.

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Audi buys Ballard fuel cell patents for $80 million

Audi buys fuel-cell patents from Ballard Power Systems

Development agreement with Ballard extended until 2019
Audi’s Head of Development Prof. Hackenberg: “The entire VW Group will use these patents.”

Ingolstadt/Burnaby, February 11, 2015 – AUDI AG has acquired a package of patents relating to fuel-cell technology from Ballard Power Systems Inc. In addition, the Volkswagen Group has extended its cooperation with the Canadian clean energy company until 2019.

The purchase of these patents will provide new impetus for the development of fuel-cell drive systems at Audi, VW and the Volkswagen Group. As explained by Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for

Technical Development at AUDI AG and responsible for the steering of the development departments of all brands in the VW Group: “Audi is acquiring these strategically important patents for the entire group and will make them available to all the brands. In this way, we are securing crucial expertise that will provide new impetus for the further development of this technology.”

Ballard Power Systems Inc. is based in Burnaby, Canada, and is one of the world’s leading companies in the technology of proton exchange membrane fuel cells. Ballard provides clean energy products that reduce customer costs and risks, and helps customers solve difficult technical and business challenges in their fuel-cell programs.

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2015 Volkswagen e-Golf

Until now, the only way you could get the words “electric” and “Golf” so close together was the put the word “cart” after them. Knowing that the e-Golf would be the next step in Volkswagen’s tilt at electrification, the automaker designed the MkVII platform to fit a myriad of drivetrains, none of which would require purchasers to sacrifice the Golf-ness that makes the best-selling car in Europe, not to mention a huge hit here in the States. In the e-Golf that means power electronics underhood and an amoeba-shaped battery that fits in the floorpan, between the axles, where it won’t ooze into the interior space.

We look at the e-Golf as another kind of crossover: traditional cars that just happen to be electric, offering a taste of the new EV religion in soothing, recognizable garb. We had one for a week in its natural habitat, Los Angeles and the surrounding area. We really like the fact that, powertrain aside, it maintains everything we dig about the Golf. The caveat is that this is an EV first and a Golf second – you must first address the EV challenges and live within EV constraints, then you can enjoy the Golf bits. Even so, it’s the electric car this writer would buy once we acquired the lifestyle to make proper use of it.

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The most noticeable exterior change to the e-Golf are 16-inch Astana wheels wrapped in 205-series tires that reduce rolling resistance by ten percent. Once you’ve cottoned on to that, the other alterations become apparent: the blue trim strip underlining the radiator grille, the redesigned bumper with the C-shaped decoration LED lights and the full-LED headlamps above them, the little blue “e” in the model name on the rear hatch. You won’t notice the underbody paneling, that the frontal area of the e-Golf is ten percent smaller than that of a traditional Golf, that the radiator is closed off, or the reshaped rear spoiler and vanes on the C-pillars. Volkswagen says this results in a ten-percent drop in drag, getting the coefficient down to 0.281, but the standard Golf is also listed at 0.28. The TSI and TDI are 0.29. No matter those numbers, the point is the e-Golf looks just like… a Golf.

The 12,000-rpm, 85-kW electric motor equates to 115 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque, which compares to 146 hp and 236 lb-ft from the 2.0-liter diesel Golf. It takes 4.2 seconds to get to 37 miles per hour, 10.4 seconds to hit 62 mph, and the little guy tops out at 87 mph. That sounds like slacker acceleration, but it never feels that way – you can pull away from a light with the rest of traffic, and any time you need a squirt, 199 lb-ft of instant torque is there to woosh you forward.

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The interior gets a few more tweaks, all still subtle. The upholstery treatment is leatherette seats and surfaces with gray and black trim, and the list of standard equipment is lengthy. Buyers get parking heater/ventilation, six-inch touchscreen radio and nav, a heated windscreen, leather steering wheel, and a leather gear knob as part of the standard e-Golf package. In the dash cluster there’s a power display on the left instead of a tachometer, and a gauge in the speedometer displays the amount of charge in the battery. Between the two dials is a color display presenting data like range, regenerative braking level and charge time. Subscribe to the Car-Net service and you’ll get features like remote battery charging and climate control operation.

The EV maintains its interior Golf-ness because the 24.2-kWh lithium-ion battery is shaped to fit between the axles in the floor of the Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) platform. These 264 cells are grouped into 27 modules and laid out in a structure that looks like a bizarro Jell-O mold, but it’s what makes the e-Golf a Golf that just happens to be electric. Of the car’s 3,391-pound curb weight, 700 pounds of that is the battery, located way down at the bottom. Center of gravity is the obvious beneficiary, along with cabin spaciousness.

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With a suspension tweaked to handle the extra weight, the electric hatchback also maintains its driving Golf-ness. It’s stable, it’s peppy, and it’s not afraid of cornering – keeping in mind it rides on a narrow footprint. The electric and mechanical braking systems worked together imperceptibly. Outside of hard acceleration and engine noise, you’d struggle to find it missing anything from the traditional Golf experience.

Additional driver involvement comes from working through the driving and brake regen modes, should you wish. There are three driving profiles: Normal – which the car always starts in – Eco, and Eco+. Eco modes put a dent in power usage, though. The motor output drops to 94 hp, pull-away torque is reduced to 162 lb-ft, throttle response is scaled back, A/C output is reduced, and the top speed drops to 71 mph. Eco+ bangs that down further: motor output becomes 74 hp, pull-away torque is 129 lb-ft, the A/C is turned off, and the top speed is 56 mph.

There are four levels of regenerative braking after the default, D, which has no regen. Tapping the gear lever to the left or right hops you through the D levels – D1, D2, D3, and B – while pulling back (where “Sport” would be on a traditional Golf) puts you into B, the strongest level. It’s a game that gets fun to play, timing your braking as you coast to a stoplight, figuring out which level will get you stationary when and where you need to be without touching the brake pedal.

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We really like the Volkswagen e-Golf. This author has never had an electric car for an extended-loan daily driver before, and we quickly discovered that it’s not something you just jump into – it needs planning. It also needs a certain kind of lifestyle, which we don’t have. We can’t access or park near the only outlet in our apartment garage. Even if we could, the one time we tried to charge with a 115-volt outlet, with about four miles of range left, the car informed us it would take almost 17 hours to fill up. Nor do we have a day job, so we miss out on a regular set of hours in one location to plug in. Our lifestyle is as compatible with an electric car as beer and toothpaste, so for a few days we pretended to have office hours at the Santa Monica Public Library, just to get some juice.

On the days we stayed in LA proper, everything was good – you’re always going to find a charge station nearby and plenty of options for passing time during a quick boost. The average day is an electric breeze in this car, although you do have to prep for getting over canyon passes here – doing the 8.5 miles over the San Fernando Mountains needs a lot more than 8.5 miles of range, because 4.5 miles of it is uphill.

But the day we had to make a 110-mile round trip drive to Irvine, well, that was more of an adventure than we planned. We started with 72 miles of range, but steady-state cruising at 65 miles per hour does no favors for electric cars, and we watched the range drop until we had 20 miles left and 20 miles to go to get to our destination. Having planned ahead, we lunched at a mall while the car drank up. We stayed off the highway after that, but the Orange County surface streets we needed were like downscaled highways, with 40-mph speed limits and long stretches between lights, so range still suffered.

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We plugged into a wall outlet for five hours while in Irvine and started home with 39 miles of range, knowing we’d have to stop somewhere. The e-Golf navigation maps every nearby charging station, even the ones you can’t use. That’s how you end up cruising a residential neighborhood on reduced power, with one mile of range left, heading for a charge point that a security guard will tell you is on private university grounds, so you put on your nice face and convince him to let you plug in for 30 minutes so you can reach the ChargePoint station four miles hence. ChargePoints aren’t as thick on the ground in the area as we had thought, and obviously, we hadn’t done enough planning – nor charging – ahead of time. The blame is entirely ours, not the car’s.

When asked to do what it’s meant to do, and given the juice to do it, the e-Golf is excellent – and why wouldn’t it be? It’s a Golf. If we wanted a second car for a city runabout – after our, yes, go-anywhere-there’s-gas ICE car – and were determined to go electric, this would be the one. The e-Golf is priced at $35,445, excluding $820 for destination, so the Nissan Leaf is $6,400 less dear (after tax credits for both). That’s not a little bit of money, agreed, but the Leaf isn’t as handsome, roomy, fun, or nice as the e-Golf. The Chevy Spark EV is only $500 less expensive but an even bigger compromise. The Ford Focus Electric is fine to look at but more expensive for no good reason. The Chevy Spark EV is about $8,000 less expensive, but nothing like the Golf except that it’s electric. The BMW i3 and Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric are in different price brackets.

The Ford Focus Electric is fine to look at and $6,000 less expensive, a compelling amount in cars that aren’t that far apart. We like the look, feel, and ride of the VW better, but it would be hard to tell someone else to simply ignore the difference. As far as this writer’s concerned, the e-Golf is it. Once we got a home charger. Or a day job.

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