How the Volkswagen investigation could impact Chattanooga
With Volkswagen leading as the world's largest automaker how could this cheating scandal affect Chattanooga's economy?
When Channel 3 sat down with University of Tennessee Chattanooga Economics Professor Bruce Hutchison, he didn't hold back his opinion. He says regardless of what Volkswagen decides to do moving forward, there will be some type of negative impact on our city.
"There's no way other than to see it's a negative impact on Chattanooga," he said.
Hutchison says the Volkswagen investigation will no doubt affect the people living in Chattanooga.
If Volkswagen suffers as a company, so will its employees.
"Some people are going to lose jobs, at least temporarily, those jobs will disappear," Hutchison said, "There's going to be disruption."
But Hutchison's outlook isn't all bad.
If Volkswagen slows down production, he thinks it will only be temporary.
"I will be very surprised if there isn't a cutback in their production here," he said, "And it's going to take four, five, six years probably to bring that back to where it would otherwise have been."
The dozens of suppliers now working with VW will find other partners in the meantime.
"It's likely that the local parts suppliers for VW will be able to adjust, and increase their sales somewhat to other producers across the country," said Hutchison.
Possibly the worst fear for Chattanoogans is the idea of Volkswagen going bankrupt.
But Hutchison says there is a silver lining. Auto sales are on the rise worldwide, meaning even if Volkswagen closes its doors, another auto maker will likely want the resources Chattanooga leaders worked to establish.
"It's not as though a nuclear bomb was dropped and just destroyed the VW factory out there," he said, "It's still going to be there, it is a modern factory, highly productive and someone's going to take it over very quickly if VW were to go bankrupt."
We do know that this investigation will turn out to be very costly for Volkswagen.
The EPA could fine the company up to $18 billion.
But Hutchison did say, historically the EPA does not hand out the maximum fines, although the agency will want to set a precedent so this kind of scandal doesn't happen in the future.