Glenn Miller’s 1941 musical hit “Chattanooga Choo Choo” made the city on the banks of the Tennessee River famous. Heavy industry and railways once dominated day-to-day life in the city. Today, it is the home of the most environmentally friendly automotive factory in the world, where Volkswagen manufactures the Passat specially for the US market. The new plant has created 2,500 jobs to date and represents a long-term commitment to one of the world’s most important automotive markets.
Since their paths crossed at the new Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the falcon and the security guard have become good friends. Up on the hill – as the locals down in the city call the ridge to the east – stands one of the most modern automobile plants in the USA. It blends into the magnificent scenery – surrounded by forests, with the Tennessee River flowing through the valley below and birds circling above in the clear blue sky.
The falcon is one of them. Every morning, it lands on one of the lamp posts in the visitors’ car park. It has the best view of its hunting territory in the grounds of the Volkswagen plant from up there. Many small animals live on the natural banks of the stream that winds through the site. Every day, employees cross the wide bridge over the biotope on their way to the production buildings and back. The new Volkswagen plant has already created a total of around 2,500 jobs and suppliers are expected to employ another 9,500.
VOLKSWAGEN CHATTANOOGA –
Where the US Passat has been rolling off
the assembly line since 2011.
The version of the Passat developed specially for the US market has been rolling off the Chattanooga production line since 2011. The United States is still one of the world’s most important automotive markets – and the Volkswagen Group wants to conquer it with the help of its new US production facility. National sales by the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand are projected to grow to 800,000 vehicles per year by 2018. The Volkswagen Group’s success in 2011 shows that it is on the right track, increasing deliveries in the USA by a good 23 percent year-on-year to over 440,000 vehicles. Alongside the Jetta and the new Beetle, which are manufactured in Puebla, Mexico, the Passat is Volkswagen’s trump card for the future – a car made in America, for America. The Chattanooga plant has an initial annual production capacity of up to 150,000 vehicles, but it is configured for a whole lot more.
Kevin McGregor is one of the people responsible for “greening” the new North American Volkswagen plant, in the truest sense of the word. The landscape gardener and small business owner with twelve employees has brought many new ideas to life together with his customer, Volkswagen. Word gets around: “Colleagues from all over the country come here to see what we have done”, he says.
DIVERSITY OF “GREEN” IDEAS – Landscape gardener Kevin McGregor has made many new ideas reality together with Volkswagen: “Colleagues from all over the country come to see what we have done here.”
The present-day site could not be more different from its industrial past. “When there was heavy industry here, the air in Chattanooga was so dirty that we couldn’t see the mountains from the city. They told us on the radio not to play outside when there was smog”, McGregor reminisces, recalling his childhood. Today, Chattanooga is home to an environmentally-friendly and resource-efficient automobile factory like no other. The landscape gardener is thrilled to be involved in this flagship environmental project.
At Volkswagen Chattanooga, environmental stewardship begins at the employee car park in front of the factory gates. As McGregor explains, rainwater dirtied by parked cars and debris flows through a specially designed “biofilter”. Runoff is directed down a slope with special plant species and raised layers of stones to remove sediments naturally. The biologically filtered water can then be fed into a stream or sewer system without the need for expensive filtering technology. “It’s better for the environment and costs less”, is McGregor’s opinion of the resource-friendly water treatment system.