After years of development and spending at least $900-million, Volkswagen’s Chattanooga factory will finally start the production of the much-awaited VW Atlas. Dubbed as the ”boldest vehicle“ sold in the US, the 2018 VW Atlas is in fact also the largest MQB-based model by Volkswagen. Above all, the 7-seater SUV will come with a starting price that is sure to threaten Toureg’s $49,495 pricetag.
The series production has started on Wednesday at VoA’s Tennessee factory. Volkswagen invested over $900-million to enhance the existing facilities and increase the production space by at least twenty six percent (or equivalent to 665,000 square foot). Since this expansion was basically intended for the Atlas, an additional workforce has been needed along the line.
From 2,400 employees, the Chattanooga factory now has 2,800 workers. VW also suggests that these numbers will likely increase as the level of production requires. Hinrich Woebcken, CEO for VW North America recounts how the Atlas has been designed for the US. He’s obviously delighted about the fact that the “big” SUV is now being manufactured locally.
Next year, the “Teramont” (a rebadged version) will also be built in China. Volkswagen has in fact announced its plan in introducing a diesel version of the Atlas, which will be exclusively sold in Russia.
We could also expect other European markets to be part of the plan. Just the same, the US-spec Atlas won’t come with a TDI engine. More or less this has something to do with VW’s diesel scandal. Due to this, the US market will only have two choices of gasoline-powered engines.
The entry level variant comes with a 238 hp 2.0-litre TSI turbocharged engine while the more powerful version boasts up to 280hp coming from its 3.6 litre, naturally aspirated V6 engine. Both are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission but the 6-cylinder may also come with the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system.
Meanwhile, the 2018 Atlas will be available in 5 trims and two engine options. Its safety features include Adaptive Cruise Control as well as Autonomous Emergency Braking.
In addition, Volkswagen’s Car Net service will also be integrated on Select trims. If you think the Atlas is too large for your small family, Volkswagen will be releasing a smaller SUV. The Tiguan can also seat up to 7 passengers since it has 3 rows but it’s basically the smaller version of the Atlas. But since the Tiguan is going to be assembled in Puebla Mexico, the only missing piece is perhaps the “Made in USA” label.