Volkswagen Group of America is establishing its first technical innovation hub in North America with the University of Tennessee (UT) at its Research Park on Cherokee Farm in Knoxville.
“Working with the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a great opportunity to continue growing Volkswagen’s engineering footprint in the North American region. This hub, along with other research institutions here, is an integral part of Volkswagen’s global research and development efforts and will directly contribute to the development of our vehicles sold in North America,” said Wolfgang Demmelbauer-Ebner, executive vice president and chief engineering officer, Volkswagen North America.
The new facility will be home to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the largest US Department of Energy science and energy lab. It will offer research opportunities for doctoral students and space in the Innovation North building at the UT Research Park. Initial work will focus on developing lighter vehicle components made from composite materials; the electrification of vehicles; as well as other avenues of research.
UT interim president Randy Boyd commented, “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. These types of partnerships are transforming the Tennessee Valley Corridor into a global innovation leader.”
VW has been an employer in the region since it opened an assembly plant in Chattanooga in 2011. UT Chattanooga and Volkswagen developed an MBA program that enables Volkswagen employees to earn a degree by taking classes at the factory or on campus. Volkswagen is also a member of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, a cooperative agreement between UT Knoxville and the Department of Energy.
“Our collaboration with the University of Tennessee is not just an opportunity to explore new fields of research, it’s also an opportunity to expand and grow what the Volkswagen Group has already achieved in the region,” said Nikolai Reimer, senior vice president of Volkswagen Group of America Innovation and Engineering Center California.
“The Volkswagen Group has made significant strides in developing sustainable technologies and the Innovation Hub Knoxville can help continue this effort through research into advanced material design.”