Volkswagen AG (VOW), seeking to expand U.S. sales, plans to decide in the fourth quarter whether to build a sport-utility vehicle at its Chattanooga, Tennessee, factory, the plant’s chief executive officer said.
The automaker, based in Wolfsburg, Germany, has already spent about $1 billion to open the Tennessee factory in 2011 to build the Passat sedan.
The plant, which employs 2,600 people, is among the top two locations being considered for the SUV, Frank Fischer, head of the plant, told reporters after a presentation at the Center for Automotive Research’s annual Management Briefing Seminars near Traverse City, Michigan. The other site being considered is in Mexico, he said.
“They’re very far into the process” of deciding, Fischer said.
The Crossblue concept, a seven-seat SUV shown at the North American International Auto Show in January, could help VW reach its target of increasing sales in the U.S., where it lags competitors, to 1 million Audi and VW vehicles by 2018. VW and Audi reported 2012 combined U.S. sales of 577,443.
Volkswagen’s goal is to overtake Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) and General Motors Co. (GM:US) as the world’s largest automaker by sales by 2018.
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