Volkswagen Group of America and the University of Tennessee are collaborating to create Volkswagen’s first innovation hub in North America at the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm.
According to the Press Release, the collaboration, which will include Oak Ridge National Laboratory, one of the largest U.S. Department of Energy science and energy laboratory, involves research opportunities for doctoral students and space in the Innovation North building at the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm in Knoxville. Initial work will focus on developing lighter vehicle components made from composite materials, the electrification of vehicles, and other automotive innovation.
The hub marks the culmination of years of collaboration since Volkswagen opened its Chattanooga Assembly plant in 2011. The facility assembles the Volkswagen Passat sedan and Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs, specifically designed for the North American market. This past fall, Volkswagen of America broke ground on a new electric vehicle production facility, which includes a 564,000-square-foot body shop addition and up to 1,000 new jobs.
The new innovation hub in Knoxville will join Volkswagen’s larger global innovation ecosystem. This includes innovation centers in Belmont, California; Wolfsburg, Germany; and Beijing, China, along with innovation hubs in Barcelona, Spain; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Tokyo, Japan. The Innovation and Engineering Center California in Belmont opened in 1998 with three employees and now has grown to more than 200 engineers, scientists, designers and psychologists. Their work bridges the gap between Silicon Valley technology and the automotive group. Each center manages the regional innovation ecosystem by designing collaborative mobility concepts.
“The partnership between UT, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Volkswagen strengthens Tennessee’s position as a significant source of innovation and talent for Volkswagen’s North American manufacturing base, especially at the flagship Chattanooga facility,” UT Interim President Randy Boyd said. “These types of partnerships are transforming the Tennessee Valley Corridor into a global innovation leader.”
Source: Press Release