Volkswagen officials told Chattanooga air pollution regulators in an April letter that they were moving ahead with an initial factory expansion to support "existing and future product lines" and start "Phase 2" of the plant's construction.

The second phase at the plant could nearly double production to 300,000 units a year if it eventually is finished, the company has said.

While Volkswagen officials said the addition cited in the letter to the Air Pollution Control Bureau relates to the existing Passat, it's seen as a positive sign that the automaker is eyeing Chattanooga as it considers where to put production of a new sport utility vehicle.

In the April 16 letter, VW General Manager of Plant Engineering Heinrick Keulmann said its emissions permit provides that Phase 2 construction must start by April 18.

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