Does Where It's Built Matter? - 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI Long-Term Road Test
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2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI Long-Term Road Test

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI: Does Where It's Built Matter?

February 24, 2014

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI

As you can see, our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI wasn't built in Germany. It was assembled by some well trained workers at a plant in Tennessee. This is not only a big deal for the people in and around Chattanooga, it was a big deal for Volkswagen, too.

It had been a long time since a Volkswagen was built in America and the last time it happened didn't turn out so well. This time around Volkswagen had a better plan and it appears to be working out as the build quality of our Passat TDI is excellent.

It does beg the question whether buyers still care where their cars are built? In a business dominated by global companies, does it matter if a German car is built in Germany? Or if a Japanese car is built in Japan? Or if a Chevrolet is built in Canada or a Ford in Mexico?

Something tells me most buyers don't care as long as the quality is there.

Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor


Comments

  • pantherman5 pantherman5 Posts:

    my 2005 honda odyssey was made in usa. when i bought the car new, there was a quarter inch gap between 2 interior trims. took 2 dealer visits to fix the visual nuisance. does honda make good cars? absolutely! it was just unfortunate that the installer at the honda faciity did a half a$$ job on this van, then the qc/qa guy at the end of assembly line slacked off and didn't bother to inspect before releasing it for delivery. on the other hand, my 13 passat has not had any workmanship issue so far, but there are defective parts which i will have to address soon.

  • kirkhilles_ kirkhilles_ Posts:

    Does it matter where its built? Sure, but that's just the way things are now. Japanese cars are no longer built in Japan and our 2013 Pilot is made in Alabama of all places. I work in Chattanooga (beautiful downtown) and although I have not been in the VW plant, it is supposed to be absolutely state of the art. Other than the drama relating to UAW (they were turned down by the workers), I think you should feel good about a car assembled in the US. I'm sure the VW employees work very hard and try to make an excellent product.

  • Buying a "foreign" car assembled by non-union autoworkers in the United States is the best of all worlds. You're supporting responsible and worthwhile American assembly jobs, while throwing the finger to Detroit and the UAW and getting a far superior product to a typical GM, Ford or Fiasler piece of [non-permissible content removed].

  • seppoboy seppoboy Posts:

    Where a car is assembled has a lot to do with the outcomes of quality, durability, and value for money. Foreign-based automakers build cars in the US, Canada, and Mexico to be close to the market and to keep the price value relationship where it needs to be. Some plants produce better quality than others, and for foreign models made in several plants it pays to know the source of the car, I saw numerous MB-Class models recently, some made in Bremen Germany, others assembled in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, which has a better quality reputation than Bremen. Nice to be able to buy world-sourced vehicles assembled locally. BTW, I owned a 1985 VW GTI produced in the maligned Pennsylvania plant, it was a great car that was well built and lasted many years to 270,000 miles, only eventually falling to body rust while the drivetrain remained fine. Chattanooga output looks to be very good.

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    Some people care, but some people don't think that 'assembled in the US" is sufficient, they want most of the parts manufatured in the US and the profits to go to a US based corporation (not sure how they feel about Chrysler Corp these days). Personally I don't care. I just want a good car for a good price. And I know that my purchase puts money in the pocket of a US sales person and a US dealer, that it sends tax dollars to my state and county. That when I need service that will also put dollars in the pockets of US tech's. Refusing to buy a car because a few thousand dollars in profit will find it's way to Europe or Japan or South Korea just seems silly to me and ignores the many Americans that will also benefit from your purchase now and in the future.

  • diigii diigii Posts:

    Apparently, one of TN's Republican senator thinks that politically, it matters where VW cars are manufactured by influencing the union vote with threats that VW will move production of a new SUV if the workers vote for a union, while VW denies it will deny the production regardless of the outcome.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    It depends on the company. I would probably trust Toyota to build quality products in Mexico, China, etc. whereas I'd be wary if VW or GM products were made in the same place; mainly because Toyota (champions of lean manufacturing) has better execution on their manufacturing and has practices they can easily establish in other countries, whereas some OEMs don't have as much control over their manufacturing. @diigii: That also managed to upset VW's union head in Germany, so in actuality the politician's comments might have driven investment out of the plant just because of the "meddling". The main difference being that the unions in Germany hold 50% of the seats on the board, and rather than a "us vs. them" mentality, they ARE the company. VW Germany actually wanted a union (doesn't have to be the UAW) to support a work's council, but obviously the workers voted otherwise. It's hard to feel sorry for the UAW when they've established decades of bad reputation.

  • 57belair 57belair Posts:

    Having attended college in Flint, MI, and as a former engineer at a Japanese transplant, (but also an appreciator and owner of classic American vehicles) it matters greatly to me. I saw personally the improvements a manufacturing plant can do to the economy and the people in a small community and the effect that the significant withdrawal of the Big 3 in Flint can do in the opposite fashion. To me, where a car is manufactured means as much or more to me than the nameplate, and it pains me to see so many Big 3 cars produced in Mexico or overseas.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    @57belair: You mentioned that you "saw personally the improvements a manufacturing plant can do to the economy and the people in a small community", and how it chagrins you to have seen the reduction of this economy. That economy didn't die thou

  • carchatter1 carchatter1 Posts:

    Yes, it absolutely matters where it's made. I try to support American workers as much as possible because they are my neighbors, family, friends, and taxpayers. If everyone more carefully considered that then our economy would be in a lot better shape than it is. My neighbor bitches about how his clients are opting for foreign made supplies, and then he drives home in a new Acura. That's a perfect example of how people don't consider the consequences of their actions. As for the quality of the product, UAW employees and all Americans can build great vehicles. The quality of the product is primarily determined in the design and engineering stages, not manufacturing. For example, if you have Japanese employees assembling a Lexus LS400 or a Tata Nano, the quality of the final product is largely determined by forces outside of the assembly workers control. The Nano is going to be hard to assemble correctly, and fall apart in a short while anyways.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    @carchatter1: Ironic that the North American content of most Acura vehicles is greater than that of many North American brands? Or do you consider people in Ohio, plus the numerous suppliers in and around the US, "not American"?

  • You now have foreign manufacturers making some cars here, domestic ones making some cars in Mexico. It's not as black and white as it used to be. Some people argue that foreign owned US made is worse than domestic because the R&D is done overseas, but some foreign companies have R&D centers and design cars here as well, so again it's not black and white. Manufacturing definitely supports a lot of jobs. Not just at the plant where they assemble them, but suppliers, and other businesses in the area like retail and restaurants. I think domestic or foreign owned US made are both good choices if this sort of thing is important to you.

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