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Volkswagen Pushing Forward with Cross Blue Production

Automaker making progress on SUV as it meets with UAW.

by on May.05, 2016

The VW Cross Blue is slated to hit U.S. dealership in early 2017 with production starting later this year.

With its sales continuing to decline and the diesel scandal continuing to hover over the company’s future prospects, Volkswagen of America has finally taken a step towards a turnaround with the next stage of development for its new SUV at its Tennessee plant.

Volkswagen Chattanooga has reached an early production milestone with the completion of the first assembled metal test body for the upcoming midsize sport utility vehicle that the automaker is counting on to bolster its fading position in the U.S. market.

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The maker’s position in the U.S. has been undermined not only by the diesel scandal, which has sidelined some of its most popular models, but also by the shift of consumers to trucks and utility vehicles. (more…)

UAW Files Labor Complaint Against VW

Union claims maker won't bargain in good faith.

by on Dec.23, 2015

The UAW finally gained a foothold in the South after VW's skilled trades group in Chattanooga voted to join the union.

The fight between the United Auto Workers and Volkswagen of America appears to have intensified as the UAW filed a complaint with the federal National Labor Relations Board against the German automaker.

The union claims that VW has failed to negotiate a new contract in good faith with the new bargaining unit for skilled tradesmen the UAW has carved out a VW’s new assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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VW officials said they could not comment on the situation because the company’s lawyers have not yet seen the complaint filed by UAW Local 42. The skilled tradesmen at the Chattanooga plant voted overwhelming at the beginning of December for union representation. It marked the first time that the union had succeed in organizing a group of workers at an auto plant in the Southern United States. (more…)

UAW Teams Up With Germany’s IG Metall

Push on to organize VW, BMW, Mercedes plants in U.S.

by on Nov.20, 2015

The UAW gets the nod from the NLRB to hold a new election at VW's Tennessee plant.

The United Auto Workers Union and the powerful German trade union IG Metall are forming a joint project to explore new models of employee representation in the United States.

The UAW also announced the National Labor Relations Board has scheduled a representation election for December 3 among skilled trades workers at the Volkswagen of America plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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Roughly 200 workers will be eligible to vote.  The union lost a representation election in February, 2014, but that ballot included both production workers and skilled trades.

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VW Steps Up Operations in Tennessee

New stamping plant partnership will add 500 jobs, simplify supply chain.

by on Jun.23, 2015

VW will build a version of its CrossBlue Concept when it completes the Chattanooga plant expansion.

Volkswagen continues to expand its operations in Tennessee, and with the German maker already set to double the size of its Chattanooga assembly plant it will also partner with supplier Gestamp to set up a new stamping plant near the assembly line.

The $180 million project will create another 500 jobs, improve basic logistics and allow the use of an advanced hot stamping process yielding ultra-high-strength steel panels that are lighter, more fuel-efficient and safer, according to Volkswagen.

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“The importance of this expanded partnership for Volkswagen and Chattanooga cannot be overstated,” said Christian Koch, President and CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga. “We have put another crucial pillar into place for our future success and the benefits of this expansion will impact the community for years to come,” Koch added during a news conference in Chattanooga.

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VW Looking to Americanize Vehicles Sold in US

Maker planning product development center in Tennessee.

by on Sep.10, 2014

VW is hoping its CrossBlue Concept will spur U.S. sales, which are down 13.4% in 2014.

Volkswagen wants more American input into its vehicles sold in the U.S. so it’s creating a product development center in Tennessee. Despite this need, the maker’s “Cross Blue” concept, which is supposed to revive U.S. sales, will be developed solely in Germany.

The new product development center will be next to its assembly plant in Chattanooga and help shorten the company’s product cycle, according to Mark Trahan, Volkswagen of America executive vice president.

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During the company’s recent product line preview, Trahan noted that cutting development cycles was a key objective in the company’s plans and should strengthen the maker’s position in the U.S. The center, which should be up and running in the next couple of years, is eventually expected to have as many as 200 employees. (more…)

VW Investing $900 Mil to Expand Tenn. Plant, Add New CrossBlue SUV

German maker will also set up new product development and planning center at Chattanooga plant.

by on Jul.14, 2014

The VW CrossBlue Concept vehicles rolls past the maker's assembly plant in Chattanooga, TN.

After a long delay, Volkswagen officials have finally confirmed plans to expand the capacity of their big assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee to produce and all-new midsize crossover-utility vehicle, a project that will cost the maker about $900 million.

After achieving significant growth earlier in the decade, VW is currently struggling to reverse a two-year sales slump that has threatened to leave it short of the ambitious goals it had set for 2018 when the company was hoping to sell 800,000 vehicles a year in the U.S. Based on the CrossBlue Concept vehicle, the new ute will play a “key role” in VW’s plans for the U.S. and broader North American market, declared the maker’s CEO Martin Winterkorn during an online news conference.

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“The Volkswagen brand will continue to go on the offensive in the American market,” said Winterkorn, who called the U.S. “one of the most important markets” for his company.

The VW CEO also announced that the German maker will add a new product development and planning center at the Chattanooga complex.

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UAW Recalibrating After VW Defeat

Union may challenge results at Chattanooga plants.

by on Feb.17, 2014

Workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga turned their back on an organizing bid by the UAW.

Reeling from its loss in a representation election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the United Auto Workers Union is taking a look at its strategic options in the wake of the bitter defeat.

UAW leaders said they will review all of their legal options – following the loss by a margin of just 866 votes — and will consider mounting a legal challenging the results which cost the union a chance to represent workers at the VW plant. The election was supervised by the National Labor Relations Board.

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The stinging setback underscores a decline for unions in general, according to Gary Chaison, a labor law professor at Clark University in Massaachusetts, who told Bloomberg it “seems as if it’s just a continuing spiral of decline for the American labor movement.”

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UAW Loses Bid to Organize VW Plant in Chattanooga

Devastating setback for union.

by on Feb.14, 2014

Hourly employees at Volkwagen's plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee working on a Passat sedan.

Workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant have voted against union representation  in a stinging defeat for the United Auto Workers, which left the union no closer to its goal of organizing auto workers in the Southern part of the United States.

On Friday, following three days of secret balloting, Volkswagen workers voted against joining the union by a margin of 712 to 626, according to a count conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.

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The decision follows a bitter campaign in which conservative groups and Tennessee’s Republican political establishment mounted an intense push to defeat the union – including warnings from state government officials that they would withhold further incentives promised to VW.

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VW Cross Blue Decision on Hold

Maker introduces German apprentice concept to Tennessee.

by on Aug.14, 2013

VW needs a home for the Cross Blue Concept and Tennessee has been considered the most likely production source.

A decision on whether to build a new midsized crossover vehicle at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee may not come until early next year now.

Various company sources caution that the German maker is looking at a variety of options for a production version of the Cross Blue concept, as well as for its plants in both Tennessee and in Mexico. But bringing Cross Blue to the U.S. is considered a leading alternative as it would both increase utilization of the sprawling factory complex and give ready access to what is likely to be the crossover’s largest market.

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Frank Fischer, president and chief executive officer of the Volkswagen manufacturing facility in Chattanooga says he is hoping a decision on the long-delayed plans for Cross Blue will be made soon. But it likely won’t come until late this year or even the first quarter of 2014, he said.

Volkswagen is now fine-tuning the business case for the vehicle, which requires rigorous cost analysis as well as cooperation from marketing, engineering and purchasing.

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VW Postpones Decision on Tennessee Plant Expansion, 2nd Product

But announcement likely before year-end.

by on Jun.26, 2013

VW says the CrossBlue Concept was designed specifically for the US market.

Volkswagen has some big news for Tennessee – but not the news many had expected.  The German maker has invested another $40 million in the state, about two hours from its sprawling Chattanooga assembly complex, to add a new regional distribution center. But the announcement sidestepped the really big decision many have been expecting.

VW has signaled that it will soon decide whether to add a second product line to the U.S. plant – a move that could lead it to double the size of the Chattanooga facility, expanding capacity to as much as 500,000 units annually.

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“We expect a decision in 2013,” Carsten Kreb, communications director for Volkswagen Group of America Inc. said in an e-mail. But no decision has yet been taken as to whether and, if so, which model this could be built at the plant.

However, it appears almost certain – as TheDetroitBureau.com reported last week – that the Chattanooga plant will eventually produce a version of the CrossBlue Concept, a three-row crossover-utility vehicle that would help expand Volkswagen’s presence in the rapidly expanding CUV market.

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