Volkswagen has announced an increase in production hours at its year-old Chattanooga, Tenn. plant. In order to increase manufacturing, the German automaker will start operating 20 hours a day, six days per week.
Volkswagen is also hiring a third team to keep up with increased production. In a plant that originally employed a modest 2,000 workers, it now has 3,350 to help meet its goal of producing an additional 30,000 vehicles for the upcoming year. This will bring the total units up to 180,000 vehicles for 2013.
According to Jonathan Browning, CEO of Volkswagen of America, the Chattanooga plant has the potential to create even more vehicles in the near future. Browning estimates that the 2.5 million square foot plant may eventually produce up to a quarter of a million vehicles per year.
But before VW can meet its ambitious production goals, it will likely have to make improvements to its brand image. According to the recent 2012 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study , VW was ranked number 31 of 34 nameplate brands. Only MINI, Fiat, and Smart received lower grades with a higher number of reported problems per 100 vehicles.
To improved its perceived quality, Volkswagen is starting with improvements in assembly training procedures. The Chattanooga Passat plant has hired employees with experience in standardized and detailed work. Many of them have little or no experience in auto assembly production lines, reports The Detroit News. Now Volkswagen is providing new employees with six weeks of training to bring these workers up to speed with procedures taken to ensure the quality of newly-produced VW cars.
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