The milestone moment was attended by over 1,700 employees of the Chattanooga plant.
Volkswagen is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the first customer vehicle to roll off the assembly line at its Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly plant. On April 18, 2011, a Passat SEL in Night Blue Metallic equipped with a 2.5-liter engine, automatic transmission, leather interior and 18-inch wheels became the first customer vehicle to be assembled in Chattanooga.
“Our Chattanooga family began with the birth of our Passat,” said Dean Parker, head of manufacturing at Volkswagen Chattanooga. “We all cheered as the first one drove off the line because we knew it was only the beginning. The successful launch of the Passat was greatly due to the hard work and dedication of this Chattanooga team, and it opened the doors for future vehicles like our Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport. Today, more than one million vehicles later, and as we are preparing to launch Volkswagen’s first all–electric SUV, we take a moment to appreciate our success, as it all started with our Passat.”
The start of operations at the Plant capped two years of work to transform an industrial brownfield site outside Chattanooga into the world’s first LEED-Platinum certified automotive manufacturing facility. Since then, Volkswagen Chattanooga has grown to employ about 3,800 people directly and assembled more than 1 million vehicles, while supporting thousands of other jobs in the region. More than 900 workers who helped assemble the Passat and were working at the plant when the first Passat left the line are still working there a decade later.
Joey Gilliland from the Quality Assurance team drove the first vehicle down the assembly line, and he was accompanied by Sha’rone Jones from Paint Shop, Jessica Davis from Assembly Shop, Carlton Lowe from Body Shop, and Lisa Knight representing support areas.
The Chattanooga plant remains among the most environmentally friendly automotive sites in the United States, with a rainwater-recycling system and a 33-acre solar park on site that provides a significant portion of the plant’s power needs. Since the first Passat rolled off the assembly line, Chattanooga-assembled vehicles have been exported to Canada, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, and the Middle East.
The Chattanooga plant currently assembles the Volkswagen Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport and Passat, and it will also be Volkswagen’s North American base for assembling electric vehicles starting in 2022 with the ID.4 electric SUV.
VW Chattanooga Key Milestones
July 15, 2008 Announcement of Chattanooga Factory
February 3, 2009 Start of Construction
June 4, 2010 Opening of Volkswagen Academy
August 23, 2010 1,000th employee hired
September 30, 2010 Opening of Supplier Park
April 18, 2011 First Customer Passat rolled off assembly line
May 24, 2011 Grand Opening of Volkswagen Chattanooga plant
July 29, 2011 2,000th employee hired
December 1, 2011 LEED Platinum certification of Plant and Academy
May 31, 2012 100,000th Passat produced
January 23, 2013 Power-up of Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park
May 23, 2013 250,000th Passat produced
August 13, 2013 Volkswagen Academy Inaugural Graduation Ceremony
July 14, 2014 Midsize SUV Announcement
January 1, 2015 Midsize SUV Expansion Commences
July 22, 2015 500,000th Passat assembled
December 14, 2016 Midsize SUV Start of Production
May 18, 2017 First Customer Atlas Delivered
March 19, 2018 Five passenger SUV announcement
May 7, 2018 700,000th Passat assembled
October 5, 2018 100,000th Atlas assembled
January 14, 2019 MEB production and expansion announcement
October 11, 2019 Atlas Cross Sport unveiled
November 13, 2019 Construction for electric vehicle manufacturing commences