Milestones

Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant celebrates 1 millionth vehicle manufactured

The 1 millionth vehicle off the line was a red Passat.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant is celebrating the 1 millionth vehicle to roll off its assembly line - Aurora Red Metallic 2020 Volkswagen Passat R-Line. The milestone was reached later than initially anticipated due to production shutdowns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's gratifying to me that our team is back to work and able to mark yet another key milestone since the opening of VW's Chattanooga plant," said Tom du Plessis, president and CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga. "Part of us getting back to normal is taking time to recognize these important achievements which are only possible because of the hard work and commitment of our exceptional team here in Chattanooga."

2020 Volkswagen Passat Volkswagen's plant employs approximately 3,800 people.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Before the Chattanooga plant opened, Volkswagen hadn't made a vehicle in the U.S. in 22 years following the closing of the Westmoreland facility in Pennsylvania.

The Passat got its start as a vehicle designed specifically for the North American market.

Ground was broken on the Tennessee plant in 2009 and in 2011 it began producing Passats. It currently employees approximately 3,800 people. In the last nine years, the plant has produced more than 700,000 Passats and 100,000 Atlas SUVs. The new 2020 Atlas Cross Sport and the refreshed 2021 Atlas recently began production.

The Chattanooga facility doesn't just produce vehicles for domestic sale. Chattanooga-assembled vehicles have been exported to Canada, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, and the Middle East.

Volkswagen has announced that the plant will be the company's North American base for manufacturing electric vehicles including the ID.4, representing an approximately $800 million investment, starting in 2022. The expansion to enable U.S. production of long-range EVs began in November 2019.

Volksagen Chattanooga line The Chattanooga plant produces a number of vehicles.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen isn't just committed to the cars it produces in Chattanooga. The company has invested in its community too. Late last year, Volkswagen donated $1.25 million to The Conservation Fund to purchase land near the plant so it could be donated to the U.S. Forest Service.

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Improved hot hatch

The 2022 VW Golf GTI gets new handling tech

Improvements to the GTI's handling and steering should make it even faster in the curves.

Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is one of the most recognizable and popular cars the automaker sells. After a bumpy few years that ended with the standard Golf model being nixed from VW's U.S catalog, we're starting to see concrete details on the upcoming performance variants of the car, which will thankfully end up heading our way. The eighth-generation Golf GTI and Golf R will make landfall in the United States as 2022 models, and will both feature a load of new tech and refinements. VW just announced the changes that are being made to the GTI's handling and performance systems, and they are extensive, to say the least.


2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI VW is offering the 8th-gen Golf only in high-performance GTI and R configurations.Volkswagen


Volkswagen is giving the legendary hot hatch a host of improvements, which the automaker says will give the car more precise, stable handling at its limit. The GTI's front suspension has been reconfigured with new wishbone bearings and damping hydraulics. VW says that the car's springs and buffer stops have also been revised, which will give the font axle spring rate that is five percent higher than its predecessor. A new aluminum subframe is also in place, which will reduce weight by seven pounds over the previous car.

The eighth-generation Golf brought a new VW Vehicle Dynamics Manager system which will also benefit the upcoming GTI. The system integrates the car's electronic stability control with its electronic differentials, and in GTI models equipped with the optional DCC adaptive damping system, the system adjusts individual wheel damping up to 200 times per second. The differential itself will now come standard with all GTI models. It's an electronically-controlled torque-sensing limited-slip unit, which varies the levels of its intervention based on how the car is being driven and on how the other traction control functions are being used.


2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI The GTI's steering is now more responsive.Volkswagen


The GTI's steering system has also been revised to now include an enhanced progressive steering function that uses software to help turn the vehicle with less steering effort, depending on speed. Volkswagen says that the GTI's steering takes just 2.1 turns of the steering wheel to go from lock to lock when it's equipped with 18-inch wheels.

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The 2022 Toyota Prius Nightshade is a fresh edition for the company's lineup.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

One of Toyota's most efficient cars is getting the blackout treatment. Like other Nightshade editions Toyota puts out, the 2022 Prius Nightshade has all the requisite black accents while maintaining its heralded powertrain.

The 2022 Toyota Prius Nightshade is available in front- and all-wheel drive. Buyers can add the treatment to Prius L Eco, LE, LE AWD-e, XLE, XLE AWD-e and Limited grades. It comes in the buyer's choice of Midnight Black Metallic, Super White, or Silver Metallic paint job. Front-wheel drive models ride on standard 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels while AWD-e cars get 15-inchers with black insert and lug nuts.

The exterior of the car also gets black headlight accents, mirror caps, door handles, color keyed rear deck spoiler and shark fin antenna.

2022 Toyota Prius Nightshade

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

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Each of the models is powered by the Prius's 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, which is paired with two electric motors. A continuously variable transmission is standard. All-wheel drive models get an EPA-estimated 51 mpg in the city, 47 mpg on the highway, and 49 mpg combined. Front-wheel drive versions do a slightly better 54 mpg in the city, 50 mpg on the highway, and 52 mpg combined.

Inside there are standard SofTex-trimmed trimmed, heated, power adjustable front seats and a SofTex-trimmed heated steering wheel and semi-gloss black center console. A 7-inch infotainment touch screen is standard, as is a six-speaker JBL sound system. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa come on every model, as are an auxiliary jack, three USB ports, a wireless phone charger, and one 12-volt outlet.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard and includes a pre-collision system with low-light pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, bicyclist detection, lane departure alert, automatic high beams, and road sign assist.

All Prius models come with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and 60-month/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Toyota's hybrid battery warranty is for 10 years or 150,000 miles from the vehicle's in-service date, whichever occurs first. The hybrid system warranty is for eight years or 100,000 miles from the vehicle's in-service date.

This latest member of the Nightshade family means that there are 11 Nightshade editions in Toyota's stable. The Prius is the first hybrid to get the treatment.

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