The Chattanooga plant will be prepared for boosted Atlas production.
Customers in the United States are still not able to buy an MQB-based Volkswagen Passat, which is the most popular D-segment vehicle in Europe, and have to satisfy with the aging platform of the previous generation model. Despite the recently launched Passat GT, sales of the model in America are not great and this is forcing the German manufacturer to idle production of the model at its Chattanooga plant for two weeks this spring.
The information was confirmed to Times Free Press by plant spokesman Keith King, who announced the factory won’t operate from March 26 to 29 and from April 2 to 5. During the first nonproduction period, the plant will remain open for training of hourly employees and some retooling to boost the production of the seven-seat Atlas, while the second week will be a mandatory planned shutdown. No layoffs are planned for the 3,450 workers of the site.
"Part of it is general retooling, preventative maintenance and just retooling for potential new developments," Kind said.
In February this year, Volkswagen shifted 3,036 Chattanooga-made Passats, more than 50 percent down from the same month last year. The Atlas in turn sold 4,766 units, up by 10 percent compared to January, while the newly introduced Tiguan enjoyed 7,486 deliveries last month.
"It's not a secret the market is shifting from sedans and passenger cars to family-friendly SUVs," King commented. "It allows us to correct course a little bit."
The U.S. Passat is scheduled for a full redesign in 2019, when it will finally move to Volkswagen’s clever modular MQB architecture. The sedan is part of the automaker’s major Transform 2025+ strategy, which includes more than 50 new vehicles globally. More than ten new models will be introduced around the world every year until 2020, almost all of them based on the MQB.
Source: Times Free Press