UPDATE: Production of Chattanooga-built VW Atlas begins
Volkswagen rolled out its new midsize SUV, named "Atlas" today at the company's Chattanooga facility.
UPDATE: Volkswagen started the process of building inventory for market introduction of the Atlas in 2017 on Wednesday.
The Atlas was unveiled on the Santa Monica Pier in October of 2016. The seven-passenger Atlas offers class-competitive levels of technology and room, combined with Volkswagen driving dynamics and attention to detail.
“I am very proud of the hard work the Chattanooga team has put in to bring the Atlas to series production,” said Christian Koch, President and CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga.“
In conjunction with the facilities expansion, Volkswagen Chattanooga continues to grow its workforce to meet the production demands of adding the Atlas to the existing Passat line.
The Atlas is built alongside the Passat at the Volkswagen Chattanooga assembly plant, the result of an additional $900 million investment by Volkswagen in the facility.
Volkswagen’s hiring partner Aerotek, will host a Career Fair Friday, December 16, 2016 from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Volkswagen Conference Center.
PREVIOUS STORY: Unveiled on the west coast last week, the Atlas kicked off November with a debut in front of the home team. "In our business, time lines are really long," explained Scott Wilson, Head of Communications for Volkswagen Chattanooga. "And so, when you hit a milestone, it's worth celebrating."
The automaker's latest product was introduced to all those who will put it together during Tuesday's 'All Team' meeting. "It might seem odd to have an unveiling for the employees," said Wilson, "but if you work in the body shop, you only see that raw metal welded into the shape of a car. Then, it goes over to paint and in the paint shop you paint that metal, but you don't see when the dashboard and the seats and the carpet and everything is installed."
Plant expansion began in Chattanooga in January of last year and that was no easy task. "While we were building Passats, we had to incorporate these robots on the same lines to build the Atlas," Wilson said. "There aren't separate lines. They will be built on the same lines."
By spring, the Atlas will be available in a 4-cylinder turbo or a V-6, but no diesel engine as VW is still working through the emissions scandal. "Those other issues were taking place elsewhere, whether it was Germany or in the court room," Wilson said. "Here, the fact is, we were focused on building a quality car."
Initial release will be in the US, Canada, and Mexico, but there is already an eye toward export. "For instance," said Wilson, "in Central America and Korea and, later in 2017, we're going to be adding the Russian market."
Tuesday's event was a reminder, however, that the Atlas, like the Passat, is first a vehicle built for the American market, in Chattanooga, by people from across the Tennessee Valley. "As of last month, this factory, in the salary that we paid for our employees, passed the $1 billion point of what we added to the economy," Wilson explained. "And now we're hiring 1,100 more jobs. So I think the effect is tangible."
VW has not revealed the price of the Atlas, but said it will be competitive with rivals like the Honda Pilot, the Toyota Highlander, and the Ford Explorer.