Volkswagen plant big successafter one year of production
BY Staff and Wire reports
Saturday, April 21, 2012
4/21/12 at 5:01 AM
With a year of operation on the books, Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., is boosting employment and capacity to meet demand, moving up plans to export the Passat vehicle to Asia and becoming a blueprint for the German automaker's future factories.
Plant CEO Frank Fischer says running the sprawling facility has had its share of challenges, but the overall experience has been "fantastic."
"If you have a new product in a new factory with new equipment, new suppliers and a completely new team and new processes, every day you have something new crop up," Fischer said. "But we planned for much of this in advance, and it helped us to be prepared for any surprises."
The plant's first car rolled off the line last April, and 23,000 were produced through the end of the 2011 - a level that already has been topped this year.
Demand for the award-winning Passat led the plant to increase the speed of the production lines by up to 12 percent earlier this year by adding 200 workers. VW announced last month that it would add another 800 employees to further expand production.
Fischer said VW-Chattanooga's success stems from the design of the facility that was built from scratch and subject to heavy internal debate.
"We all consider the project to be a success - it's been a perfect mix, a perfect marriage," Fischer said.
VW Plant CEO Frank Fischer: The overall experience of starting a manufacturing operation from scratch has been "fantastic."