VW has opened its new production plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee this week (Tuesday May 24) where the German automaker will build the North American Passat model (aka NMS).
The new plant was built as part of Volkswagen's strategy to grow its sales in the United States market.
On hand for the opening ceremony was Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, as well as a variety of other big-wigs too, including the German ambassador to the United States, Dr. Klaus Scharioth, and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
But the cutting of the ribbon, so to speak, fell to the little Darth Vader, also known as Max Page, the kid dressed as Darth Vader in the VW Super Bowl ad. The little Vader also came with his crew of Stormtroopers, and, of course, the Star Wars theme music was played as he "pushed the red button" that officially opened the factory.
The Chattanooga plant will employ over 2,000 employees and have a capacity to produce up to 150,000 vehicles per year. VW will start things off with 1,700 direct employees but the company did not say how many U.S.-market Passat units it plans to produced there in the first year.
The 2012 U.S. Passat and the current Euro-spec B7 Passat are different vehicles. The North American-market Passat is now a larger car. The B7 Passat will continue to be built in Germany.