After a $900-million investment, VW's factory in Tennessee is ready to kick off series production of the 2018 Atlas.
VW calls it the “boldest vehicle ever sold by the brand in America,” although one designer part of the team doesn’t agree with that statement. The seven-seat SUV is the biggest MQB-based model ever and will effectively go on sale next spring at a starting price that will undercut the more luxurious $49,495 Touareg.
Series production has kicked off this week at VoA’s Chattanooga factory where the U.S.-spec Passat also comes to life. To get the plant ready for the Atlas’ arrival, VW has invested a total of $900 million to boost the facility’s footprint by more than 665,000 ft2, which is an increase of 26 percent in production space. In addition, the workforce has been extended by 400 to 2,800 employees, with the company saying more people are going to be hired in the near future once production of the Atlas will ramp up.
VW through the voice of Hinrich J. Woebcken, CEO of the North America Region reiterates the Atlas has been designed for United States and is glad the large SUV is being built locally. As a reminder, it will also be assembled in China starting next year to cater the local market where the model is going to be known as “Teramont.” VW has already announced plans to introduce a diesel-powered Atlas in Russia at some point in 2017 and is considering other European markets as well.
For obvious reasons, VW won’t offer the U.S.-spec model with a TDI engine, so customers will have to go with one of the two gasoline units. The entry-level is a turbocharged 2.0-liter TSI with 238 horsepower (177 kilowatts) while the beefier mill is a naturally-aspirated 3.6-liter V6 churning 280 hp (208 kW). Both engines are hooked up to an eight-speed automatic transmission, but only the six-cylinder can be optionally combined with VW’s all-wheel-drive 4Motion.
Should you find the Atlas too big for your needs, VoA is putting the finishing touches on a smaller seven-seat SUV. A three-row Tiguan has been spotted without any camouflage some months ago, so an official reveal should be right around the corner. Unlike the Atlas, it won't have the "Made in U.S.A." label since the long-wheelbase Tiguan will be assembled in Puebla, Mexico.
Gallery: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas
VOLKSWAGEN CHATTANOOGA STARTS SERIES PRODUCTION OF THE 2018 VOLKSWAGEN ATLAS
Dec 14, 2016
Chattanooga, Tenn. (14 December 2016) — Volkswagen Chattanooga today marked the beginning of series production of the Volkswagen Atlas. This marks the beginning of the process of building inventory for market introduction of the Atlas in 2017.
“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. “The challenge of integrating a new vehicle line while simultaneously completing a major expansion of our facility was daunting, but our team stepped up to the task and now we have taken another step towards the market introduction of the Atlas,” he said.
The Volkswagen Atlas, unveiled on the Santa Monica Pier in October of 2016, launches a new chapter in the company’s American history. The seven-passenger Atlas offers class-competitive levels of technology and room, combined with Volkswagen driving dynamics and attention to detail.
“The Atlas marks a brand new journey for Volkswagen as we enter deeper into the heart of the American market, moving from a small-car brand towards a more family-friendly lineup,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, CEO of the North America Region, Volkswagen. “We are so proud that this vehicle was not only designed for the American market, but we built it in our factory right here in Tennessee.”
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. Volkswagen Chattanooga currently employs 2800 team members—up from 2400 this summer-- and will continue to bring on board additional employees throughout the ramp up of the Volkswagen Atlas.
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. The expansion added over 665,000 ft2 to the facility (a 26% total increase in production space), growing each shop to accommodate the integration of the Atlas.