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Volkswagen Chattanooga celebrates 100,000th Passat

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- A year after rolling the first Chattanooga-made Passat off the assembly line, Volkswagen has reached another milestone.

Thursday, the company celebrated the production of its 100,000th car.

It was big fanfare as Joanne Benante was presented the keys to her brand new Passat. She had no idea when she bought the car that she would be the 100,000th customer to roll off the lot.

Atlanta resident Joanne Benante had no idea she was making a special purchase, until she got a call from Volkswagen.

Thursday, the plant's CEO personally thanked her for being the Chattanooga assembly plant's 100,000th customer.

Those 100,000 cars were built in just one year.

"Volkswagen right now is on a really good track," CEO Frank Fisher says. "And, I can also say a lot of it is stemming from our vehicle, our Passat, that we built right here in Chattanooga."

Benante attributes that success to the Passat's features.

She drives 100 miles round trip to work each day. After a lot of research, she chose the Passat for its fuel efficiency and low emissions.

"When VW came out with this midsize Passat, that was it," Benante says. "That was my decision right there."

She says the decision felt right from the beginning and driving the 100,000th car off the line was a perk.

"It's midnight blue, moon rock interior and it's funny because the day I bought it was February 6th," she says. "It happened to be a full moon that day."

It's a milestone VW executives congratulated workers on.

Benante says knowing her car was made just an hour from home gives her confidence and pride.

"You all out there, you're really the winners, so congratulations and thank you for building my car," says Benante.

This week, Volkswagen said it wants to build as many as four additional supplier parks at the assembly plant.

And the Chattanooga plant could be the perfect site for producing a midsize utility vehicle.

A phase two could boost production to 250,000 vehicles a year.

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