This week, Ford & GM show us why the Atlas SUV is so important for Chattanooga
CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Chattanooga’s Volkswagen plant continues to grow, still looking for several hundred more workers in the coming weeks.
But the cycles of auto plants tell us that won’t always be the case.
Eventually, there will come layoffs and shutdowns.
This week, actions by Ford and GM show us why the new SUV they are beginning to make at the plant is so important to keeping people working here.
General Motors began the week by announcing they will shut down 5 U.S. plants for a few weeks in January.
They picked plants that primarily make sedans.
Then they added 1,300 layoffs at a Detroit plant that makes the electric Chevy Volts.
Then Ford announced they will shutdown their Kansas City plant for a few weeks in March.
It makes Ford Transit vans.
The common thread to all the plants is slow sales and inventory backlog.
The Transit and Volt are niche vehicles that don’t sell in large numbers.
The sedans (Chevrolet Impala, Cadillac CT6 and Buick LaCrosse) are suffering from sagging sales.
In the last year, Americans are moving back to SUVs and pickups as gas prices remain low.
So what does this mean for our own auto plant?
Clearly, it is a risky, long-term future to be making sedans like the Passat for U.S. consumers.
The brand has done well here, but how long will it last?
Volkswagen doesn’t have a pickup to sell, so they really need to beef up their SUV game.
So that’s why they developed the Atlas for the American market.
And if it sells, the Chattanooga plant can avoid its own shutdown announcement for years to come.