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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Photo courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service

The long process to design, engineer, and award a contract for the U.S. Postal Service's (USPS) next-generation mail delivery vehicle (NGDV) has finally come to an end. The government has awarded Oshkosh Defense a contract to produce the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle for service. Oshkosh Defense is a a wholly owned subsidiary of Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE: OSK).

The NGDV project is the USPS's first large-scale fleet procurement in three decades. Over the next 10 years, the contract allows for the delivery of between 50,000 and 165,000 new vehicles.

"Oshkosh operates with unparalleled commitment to those who depend on our products and services to build, protect and serve communities around the world. We are honored to have been selected by the USPS to support their important work by manufacturing American-made Next Generation Delivery Vehicles that will connect every home and business across the United States for decades to come," said John Pfeifer, President & Chief Operating Officer, Oshkosh Corporation.

U.S. Postal Service's Next-Generation Mail Delivery Vehicle

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service

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The new mail trucks will have multiple powertrain options, just like many passenger vehicles on the road today. There will be a battery electric vehicle (BEV) version that runs exclusively on electric power and a fuel-efficient low-emission internal combustion engine vehicles (ICE) variant.

Under the contract awarded today, USPS has committed to paying Oshkosh Defense $482 million as a first step toward the new vehicles' production. The money will be used to finalize the production vehicle design and complete factory build-out, all of which is necessary before production gets underway. The process is similar to ones mass market vehicle manufacturers use.

"Our century-long history of delivering products to customers, operating in some of the most demanding and severe conditions on the planet, uniquely positions us to bring exceptional reliability, safety, and maintainability to USPS's Next Generation Delivery Vehicles," said John Bryant, Executive Vice President, Oshkosh Corporation, and President, Oshkosh Defense. "Partnering with trusted suppliers, we have developed a purpose-built solution to support the current and future needs of the USPS," Bryant concluded.

In addition to a new exterior and powertrain options, the NGTV also gets modern features and amenities like a rearview camera, walk-in cargo area, air condition, telematics, and a sliding cargo door. There's also a host of safety technology and equipment including airbags, automatic front and rear braking, blind spot warning, a 360-degree camera, and forward collision warning.

Production of the next generation delivery vehicle is expected to begin in 2023.

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Volkswagen has added new model to its Enthusiast Fleet.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen

Volkswagen has a number of enthusiast concept vehicles planned for 2021. The first is a Jetta GLI that revives the spirit of the rare Mk4 Blue Lagoon GLI.

Since 1984, Volkswagen has been offering a sportier version of the traditional Jetta, called the Jetta GLI. The company took the same approach to it as it took to the Golf GTI but added the benefits of a sedan. In 2002 VW released the GTI 337, a limited special edition model - just 1,500 were produced. It was outfitted with 18-inch BBS RC wheels, RECARO seats, and a Votex body kit, the car served as a design jumping off point for the next-generation GLI.

That next-gen model, with GLI spec, would arrive in 2004. The Mk4 Jetta GLI brought sporty driving to the U.S. market with a body kit, wheels, and seats that were similar to the 2002 model. It was released with a Blue Lagoon paint job that, for reasons not made totally clear, was soon replaced by a medium dark shade of blue called Jazz Blue.

2021 Volkswagen Enthusiast Fleet: Jetta GLI

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

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"The Jetta GLI has been an enthusiast favorite throughout its 37-year history," said Sean Maynard, Enthusiast and Motorsport Marketing Specialist. "Paying tribute to the Mk4 with this build concept celebrates the passion that goes into these vehicles."

VW is honoring the rare model by modifying a 2021 Jetta GLI Autobahn, with a manual transmission, natch, into the fan favorite for the annual Enthusiast Fleet. Andres Valbuena, former Volkswagen product launch manager lead the team and executed the modifications in just over a month.

The car started its life as a 2021 Jetta GLI coated in Deep Black Pearl paint. Its new Blue Lagoon exterior color is courtesy of a vinyl wrap, which was color matched using a fuel filler door off a 2004 GLI. After looking through the inventory of numerous suppliers, Vlabuena found the perfect blue - ORAFOL Midnight Blue Metallic. The wrap has been installed on the entire car, including interior door jambs and side body pieces.

Air Design installed the car's exterior side skirts and rear trunk spoiler and Fifteen52 was tasked with installing a Critical Aero Design (CAD) front lower spoiler. AlphaParts found the BBS CH-R 20-inch alloy wheels the car needed to be complete and wrapped with Continental ExtremeContact Sport 235/35Z R20XL 90Y tires, and upgraded the car's original suspension to now include an H&R Springs Street Performance Coil Over suspension.

Inside the vehicle, RECARO Ergomed ES leather front seats, and a Black Forest Industries weighted golf ball shift knob.

"The color is incredible," said Valbuena. "The Recaro's, wheels, and styling changes are amazing, but when you see it outside in the sun that color is something else."

You can catch the one-of-a-kind model, along with the rest of the 2021 Volkswagen Enthusiast Fleet, at enthusiast events around the country this year.

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