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Volkswagen investing $800 million, adding 1,000 jobs at Tennessee plant

Volkswagen is expanding its operations in Tennessee.

Rendering courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen is spending $800 million to expand its Chattanooga, Tennessee plant as the company readies for large-scale battery-powered electric vehicle (BEV) production. The plan calls for the addition of 1,000 jobs and 564,000 square feet of space.

"This is a big, big moment for this company," said Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. "Expanding local production sets the foundation for our sustainable growth in the U.S. Electric vehicles are the future of mobility and Volkswagen will build them for millions, not just millionaires."

The Chattanooga plant will be Volkwagen's U.S. base for BEV production. The company rolled out long-range EV production earlier this month at its Zwickau, Germany plant. The production version of the ID CROZZ will initially be assembled in Germany but production will move to Chattanooga in 2022 when the expansion opens.

That doesn't meant that the entire plant is converting to BEV production. Volkswagen will continue to built both internal combustion engine vehicles as well as BEVs on the same assembly line.

VW currently builds its midsize Atlas SUV and Passat sedan in Chattanooga. The forthcoming Atlas Cross Sport, sporting the redesigned "R" logo, will also be assembled there.

Previously, Volkswagen has announced plans to build a 198,000-square-foot battery pack assembly plant at the Chattanooga site.

"With Volkswagen's expansion, Tennessee is on the cutting edge of the move to electric vehicles and our workforce is up to the challenge." Tennessee Gov. Lee said. "We look forward to a continued partnership with VW and the growth of advanced manufacturing in Chattanooga and beyond."

Ambassador Haber added, "The United States plays an absolutely central role in German carmakers' global activities. German carmakers like Volkswagen have already invested here, in Tennessee and in the U.S. as whole, creating jobs and training young employees. I wish Volkswagen of America and this new facility for electric vehicles all the best and a lot of success."

Tom du Plessis, Volkswagen Chattanooga CEO, said the expansion signals the start of new, high-tech processes in the plant. Hiring for the new assembly will begin in early 2020 and will continue as production ramps up. Positions added for the expansion include supervisors, specialists and a variety of engineers specializing in electrical, software, mechanical, manufacturing, chemical and quality control.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The redesigned 2021 Nissan Rogue includes the technology.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan continues to roll out its Rear Door Alert (RDA) technology across its lineup. An announcement this week by the company confirmed that the alert is now available on 12 vehicles. It is expected to be available on all four-door trucks, sedans, and SUVs by 2022. That date is important as it marks the completion of a series of product rollouts the company has planned.

For model year 2020, RDA is standard on the Nissan Altima, Armada, Kicks (SV and SR), LEAF, Murano, Maxima, Pathfinder, Rogue, Rogue Sport, Sentra, TITAN (King Cab and Crew Cab) and Versa (SV and SR).

2020 Nissan rear door alert Drivers can temporarily or permanently disable the alerts in Nissan vehicles.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Rear Door Alert was developed by a pair of Nissan engineers and first installed in the 2018 Pathfinder. RDA was the industry's first system to use the horn, door sensors, and message display on the center instrument panel, to remind drivers to check the back seat after the vehicle is parked.

In Nissan vehicles, RDA works by monitoring when a rear door is open and closed before and after the vehicle is in motion. If a rear door was opened and shut before the vehicle is in motion. Once the vehicle is in park, the system will first display a notification in the instrument panel. If the driver exits the vehicle and does not open a rear door, the system progresses to distinctive chirps of the horn.

Drivers can configure and temporarily or permanently turn off RDA though a menu in the instrument cluster display or through separate RDA switch, depending on the model.

Last year, Nissan joined other vehicle manufacturers in a pledge to have a rear seat reminder feature in essentially all cars and trucks by model year 2025 or sooner. The approach that each automaker takes may be different.

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The Audi A7 will be available later this year in a plug-in hybrid format.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Audi has revealed the third plug-in hybrid in its lineup, the 2021 A7 55 TFSI e, a powerful option for executive car buyers. It joins the Audi Q5 TFSI e and Audi A8 TFSI e as the only PHEVs in the company's U.S. lineup.

The A7 gets its power from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is paired with an electric motor and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The car has a total system output of 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is standard.

Audi's new sedan can run as a hybrid or on all-electric power. Drivers can utilize the vehicle in three drive modes: hybrid, EV, and Battery Hold. Hybrid mode is activated automatically when the navigation system is issuing guidance in order to optimize battery power and reduce fuel consumption. In EV mode, the car exclusively uses battery power up to a certain speed. Battery Hold mode utilizes the car's powertrain to keep the battery capacity at its current level.

2021 Audi A7 55 TSFI e Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The A7 holds its lithium-ion battery under the rear cargo area of the sportback sedan. Final EPA-estimated fuel economy and range numbers are pending. The 14.1-kilowatt-hour battery features 104 pouch cells with a voltage of 381 volts.

Audi's predictive efficiency assist technology adjust the vehicle's behavior to save on fuel. According to the automaker, ". Detectable haptic feedback from the accelerator pedal and a visual signal in the MMI and head-up display indicate the proper time to let off the accelerator to use as much kinetic energy as possible."

The model comes standard with Audi's S line exterior package, which includes specific front and rear fascia designs, fender badgers, and illuminated doorsill inlays. The car also has Matrix-design LED headlights, high beam assist, quad-zone automatic climate control, Audi advanced key, Audi Virtual Cockpit, ad PHEV-specific displays within the infotainment system and cockpit. It rides on 20-inch Audi Sport five-twin-arm wheels wrapped in all-season tires.

The roster of standard features continues with audible low-speed exterior e Sound, a top view camera with Virtual 360 view, Integrated Toll Module, the Audi MIB 3 infotainment operating system, heated front seats, and leather upholstery for all five passengers.

A variety of packages are available.

Audi Virtual Cockpit now displays speed reductions, including those for speed limits, tow signs, curves, downward slopes, traffic circles, intersections, and highway exits.

The fresh version of the A7 can be charged at any SAE J1772 charging station or at home. Audi has partnered with Amazon Home for home charger installation should a vehicle buyer decide they want to install a charger at their residence. Charging can be monitored via the myAudi app.

The 2021 Audi A7 TFSI e starts at $74,900, a $5,000 increase over the base gasoline-only A7 55 TSFI. It will be available in Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels (the traditional A7 55 is available in three, including the lower grade Premium offering).

Audi says that customers who purchase purchasing the 2021 Audi A7 55 TFSI e will be eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $6,712. Additional state incentives may also be available.

The model is expected to arrive in dealerships later this year.

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