CHATTANOOGA, TN - The Volkswagen Group inaugurated its new plant in the United States in Chattanooga, Tenn. According to Volkswagen, more than 2,000 employees will produce up to 150,000 vehicles per year. The automaker said it will be building the U.S. version of its Passat at this plant.

Present at the inauguration were Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, and the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

Volkswagen invested about $1 billion dollars in the development of the facility at Chattanooga, with the goal of making its new plant meet corporate sustainability goals. The new plant is in line with the highest U.S. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, which lays down stringent provisions for the sustainable, environmentally compatible construction of buildings.

"The Volkswagen Group has finally arrived as a local manufacturer in the United States,” said Prof. Winterkorn. “We are proud to be part of this great automobile nation as a producer, an employer and as a friend and good neighbor to people in the region."

Since the automaker began construction in 2009, the company added an automobile plant that includes a body shop, assembly facility, technical testing center, employee training center, and a supplier park with eight companies present. The campus sits on a 1,400-acre site in Chattanooga. Volkswagen currently employs 1,700 people at this site and the plant’s presence will add an additional 10,000 jobs at component suppliers in the U.S.

Volkswagen said its new U.S. plant lays the foundations for the company to meet its target of boosting group sales in the U.S. by more than one million vehicles per year by 2018 and gain market share of about six percent for the Volkswagen Group.