On the eve of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the CEO of Volkswagen, Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, announced a multi-billion dollar investment program in North America over the next five years. Winterkorn also revealed that "Volkswagen's midsize SUV for America is on its way."
He made no mention of where the new SUV would be produced, but unnamed sources tell both Bloomberg and Reuters that Chattanooga is preferred over Puebla, Mexico for the new CrossBlue midsize SUV. It was debuted as a concept car at last year's North American International Auto Show.
The local plant has been lobbying for the assignment, which could bring more jobs and money to Chattanooga. The executive vice president of VW of America says Chattanooga is the front-runner to produce the SUV. Based on several reports, Chattanooga has been gaining the upper hand in the planning stages since September.
The Chattanooga factory currently builds the Volkswagen Passat, targeted at American customers. The plant has the capacity to produce about 150,000 vehicles a year. But, should Chattanooga begin making the CrossBlue, production could be ramped up to a quarter of a million vehicles a year.
VW says it would likely be 2016 before the vehicle hits the market.
Winterkorn also reaffirmed the goal to sell one million vehicles from the Volkswagen and Audi brands per year in the U.S. by 2018.