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VW to add planning center for Chattanooga

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The engine compartment of the CrossBlue SUV shows the hybrid technology. VW photo The engine compartment of the CrossBlue SUV shows the hybrid technology. VW photo
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Volkswagen officials announced that 200 new engineering jobs will be coming to the Chattanooga plant as part of a National Research & Development and Planning Center, in a news conference in Wolfsburg, Germany  Monday morning.

"The Volkswagen brand is going to continue to go on the offense in the United States. We want to bring the most innovative and most attractive cars to America's roads," said VW's CEO Dr. Martin Winterkorn in a news conference Monday in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Dr. Winterkorn dropped a cherry on top of Monday's jobs announcement. Volkswagen will form a new research and development center in Chattanooga, where 200 engineers will help plan and dream up the next VW products for North America.

VW America CEO Michael Horn says the new CrossBlue is just the beginning.

"The new SUV is just the start. We are working alongside, also with the new capacities Dr. Winterkorn mentioned, in terms of engineering, to broaden our product portfolio," said Horn.

"The fact that they're also adding the 200 jobs in research and development is significant," said Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.

Governor Haslam says the new Chattanooga engineering center is setting a new standard for innovation not only in Tennessee but also the South in general.

"In Tennessee and really in the Southern U.S., we have become known for manufacturing automobiles. We haven't, to date, really established a really large research and development process."

Haslam says the development think tank is a prime example of VW's commitment.

As for workers at the plant, it is a welcomed investment.

"We're a tight-nit family and I think we'll welcome them in and train them well, and we'll come up with a better quality car," says Chattanooga VW employee Tamara Slaven.

The planning center will be the site for project coordination in the North American market. It will be the engineers' jobs to “identify customers’ feedback in the market and to integrate them more expeditiously into existing and planned vehicle models. “

“Now it’s not just manufacturing but innovation in Chattanooga,” said Mayor Andy Berke on Twitter in response to news of the center.

VW officials did not respond to follow-up questions regarding how this center compares to other engineering operations. More details are expected Tuesday at a news conference in Chattanooga.

The expansion is part of a $7 billion investment in U.S. and Mexican operations between 2014 to 2018. The goal is to deliver 800,000 vehicles by 2018, officials said.

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