Volkswagen to create its first innovation hub in North America

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To create the first innovation hub of the company, Volkswagen is partnering with the University of Tennessee and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for developing new technology in North America, officials stated on Friday.

Initial work at the hub in Knoxville will consist of research opportunities for UT doctoral students and will concentrate on electric vehicles and developing lighter components from composite materials, according to a joint statement made by the three partners.

“Working with the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a great opportunity to keep growing Volkswagen’s engineering footprint in the North American region,” stated Wolfgang Demmelbauer-Ebner, VW’s executive vice president and chief engineering officer for the region. “This hub, together with other research institutions here, is an integral part of Volkswagen’s global research and development efforts and can also directly contribute to vehicles in North America.”

Volkswagen has partnered with the University of Tennessee since the beginning of its Chattanooga Assembly plant in 2011. The plant assembles the Volkswagen Passat sedan and Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs. The company broke ground in the fall on a new electric vehicle production center located in Tennessee.

Oak Ridge National Lab Director Thomas Zacharia stated the collaboration benefits science and industry.

“By identifying difficult challenges and pursuing creative solutions with immediate industrial application, we can speed up fields such as materials science, energy storage, and advanced manufacturing while making vehicles better, safer and more fuel-efficient,” Zacharia stated.

The automaker also has innovation hubs in Barcelona, Tel Aviv, and Tokyo.

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