Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) has secured a contract with Volkswagen Group of America for vehicle processing services and outbound yard management at the carmaker’s new $1 billion plant currently being built in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
WWL will provide technical services and value-added accessory installation, vehicle releasing, distribution and rail loading. Production of a new mid-sized sedan is planned at the plant in the first half of 2011 when construction is complete and is expected to reach an annual production capacity of up to 150,000 units.
“WWL is honoured and excited to expand its partnership with Volkswagen,” said John Felitto, Executive Vice President and Deputy Head of Region Americas at WWL. “Not only does the Chattanooga plant business present WWL with an opportunity to bring the highest quality vehicle processing and yard management services to the Volkswagen brand; it also offers the opportunity to create jobs and give the community a much-needed economic boost.”
The company plans to hire around 80 employees in order to expand plant operations and meet the facility’s operational capacity. This is in addition to 171 employees at WWL’s Smyrna, Tennessee, location. Up to 2,000 people are expected to work on the production of the vehicle.
“The vehicle processing and yard management operations are a crucial aspect of the production process and we are pleased to have WWL as experienced partners on this exciting new project in Chattanooga,” said Frank Fischer, CEO and Chairman of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga operations.
WWL manages operations at eight other North American automotive assembly plants.
The company has also recently strengthened its ocean service from North America to the Middle East due to increased demand in the region.
Sailings have increased once a month to between two and three sailings and WWL has added direct calls to the ports at Umm Qasr, Iraq and Karchi, Pakistan. The service already calls at Beirut, Lebanon; Aqaba, Jordan; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Dammam, Saudi Arabia; Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates; and Kuwait.
The service will cater for passenger cars as well as high and heavy equipment and break-bulk/project cargoes. WWL also said that the vessels supporting the service will carry boats.
In other news, WWL is expecting to handle more than 80,000 new vehicles at the Blount Island Marine Terminal at the port of Jacksonville this year thanks to increased exports of Ford vehicles.
Nissan and Toyota are also planning to increase activity at Jacksonville in 2010.