Volkswagen Group of America will have 800 additional jobs at its Tennessee plant related to efforts to increase production of the mid-sized Passat sedan, bringing the total workforce at the factory to 3,500 by the end of 2012. The additional jobs will also bring the company nearer to its latest target of manufacturing at least 170,000 Passats each year in Chattanooga by 2013.
The Group has not disclosed the quantity of Passat units to manufacture this year or the number of automobiles that the additional staffing can produce. VW brand's sales have risen by at least 36% each month starting in September, when the latest Passat hit showrooms in the United States just months after the launch of production. Through the January-February period this year, VW sales have risen 45% to 57,786 units, one-fourth of which are Passat units.
VW Group of America's CEO Jonathan Browning disclosed that they need more Passat units in order to satisfy the demand of the market. By 2018, the company is targeting to increase U.S. sales of the VW brand to 800,000 units each year in line with efforts to be the No. 1 vehicle manufacturer across the globe.
It also aims to sell 200,000 Audi premium vehicles in the U.S. on the same year. In 2011, sales of the VW brand increased by 26% to 324,402 vehicles. VW invested $1 billion to construct the Chattanooga factory, which opened in May 2011. The operation marks the automaker's return to manufacturing vehicles in the U.S. after more than 20 years.
VW promised to generate 2,000 jobs when it publicized factory plans in July 2008. The latest 800 additional jobs will be a mix of administrative and production positions. They are in addition to the 200 posts publicized in January, which are also part of the efforts to boost Passat output. The Passat was revamped for the 2012 model year.
This is the only U.S.-built VW model. From January to February, the automaker sold 14,507 units of Passat. The factory has around 2,200 Volkswagen employees. It also has additional employees of 500 from its staffing partner Aerotek. The new production employees will add a third team to the two-shift schedule at the factory. In this way, the need for overtime is reduced. Moreover, the automaker disclosed that the current Aerotek contract workers will fill many of the new posts.