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.