What’s been suspected for a long time has finally been confirmed: Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, production site will be the source for the as-yet-unnamed three-row crossover based on the CrossBlue concept shown in 2013. The vehicle is due to start production in late calendar 2016. Along with VW’s commitment to build the new SUV in Chattanooga comes an additional $900 million investment in the project, and $600 million specifically for Tennessee. In addition to a total of 2,000 new jobs being part of the project, Chattanooga will also be home to a new National Research & Development and Planning Center, which will focus specifically on vehicle development to meet the needs of U.S. customers.
In a move that suggests the UAW’s dreams of organizing a “Works Council” at Chattanooga are not entirely dead, VW also named Bernd Osterloh, chairman of the company’s global works council, to a position on the board of Volkswagen Group of America. Osterloh said he is “determined to uphold the interests of Volkswagen employees in Chattanooga.” U.S. labor law requires any local works council type of arrangement to be affiliated with a national organization, making the UAW an automatic candidate.
The line to build the new three-row SUV will be housed under the roof of the current factory, although an additional 50,000 square feet of floor space will be added to accommodate the new model. Volkswagen also pledged to invest $7 billion in the U.S. and Mexico between 2014 and 2018 as part of its commitment to North America.