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COMMENTARY: VW’s new R&D Center is a major milestone

VW-teknoWe could not have emphasized the long-term importance of a part of Monday’s Volkswagen announcement more than the folks at the autoXLR8R and the Tennessee Automotive Manufacturers Association (TAMA) have. Both are citing the 200 technical jobs coming to Chattanooga as part of Volkswagen’s plans to expand its manufacturing capacity in the Scenic City.

“Establishing the National Research & Development and Planning Center demonstrates VW’s commitment to fostering automotive innovation in Tennessee,” TAMA noted in its release. “Adding product design and engineering to the pipeline of services will set Tennessee apart from other locations like Mexico. As a result of the new research center, we are likely to see more suppliers conducting research and development as they work to integrate their products to VW’s new part designs. It represents an evolution of the industry in Tennessee and ultimately means more high-paying, high-tech jobs in Tennessee.”

In the autoXLR8R statement (VW Announcement Release), Program Director Jack Sisk said: “This type of investment makes a strong statement to the rest of the automotive community that local innovation is a priority. VW’s announcement is the latest indication that R&D is moving to the South.”

The new center is a dream that some of us have held since the 1990s, if not before. To see it happen after several decades of pursuit is truly rewarding. More important, however, is what it portends for Tennessee and the region.

When Volkswagen’s new plant was announced in 2008, there were billboards all over Chattanooga with the German word for welcome. In that spirit, we add a hearty “willkommen” to the R&D center.

 

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