CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Inside Volkswagen’s only U.S. assembly plant, there’s little hint of the diesel emissions cheating scandal embroiling the German automaker around the world. Sparks fly off robotic welding arms, new versions of the Passat sedan roll off the line and workers install equipment to build a new SUV billed as a key to reviving the company’s growth prospects in America.

“Nothing has changed, and the factory construction goes on,” plant spokesman Scott Wilson told The Associated Press on a tour of the sprawling facility where Volkswagen plans to add 2,000 jobs as it expands the facility by 30 percent.

But despite the business-as-usual feel of the plant, production of diesel-engine vehicles has been put on hold by VW until they get more clarity on the consequences of the emissions scandal, which has already led to the CEO’s resignation, cost the company billions of dollars in lost stock value and unleashed a flood of lawsuits.

The carmaker has admitted that 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide were fitted with a program that duped U.S. testers into believing the vehicles meet environmental standards.

And while the full effect on demand for Volkswagen’s remaining vehicles remains to be seen, some Tennessee officials fear for job prospects at the plant that currently employs 2,400, where the average hourly wage is about $21 and perks include reduced-cost leases on VW vehicles with free insurance coverage.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said the scandal presents a “big hit” to Volkswagen’s status in the United States. “My primary concern is getting Volkswagen back to where they’re in a mode to sell cars,” Haslam said.

Mike Cantrell, a quality control worker at the plant, said an initial wave apprehension among his colleagues has eased as operations at the Chattanooga factory have moved forward.

“You could just sense a lot of anxiety and a lot of questions people had,” said Cantrell, who also heads the United Auto Workers Local 43 at the plant.


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