While in Chattanooga Wednesday, Sen. Bob Corker said that the local Volkswagen plant is in competition with Mexico for another product.
"I can't say how it's going to turn out because no one can," he said. "All things being equal, I do know they'd rather be in Chattanooga. The question is whether or not all things will be equal."
Corker gave the keynote speech at an inaugural CEO Series event hosted by the Tennessee Small Business Development Center and The Company Lab Wednesday morning.
In January, Volkswagen leaders unveiled the concept for a midsized hybrid SUV designed specifically for the North American market, called CrossBlue, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, according to Nooga.com archives.
Leaders haven't said where the vehicle may be produced, but Chattanooga leaders attended the Detroit auto show to let VW officials know that they want it to be made in the Scenic City.
If another product is made locally, that might require a plant expansion. And there is room on the Enterprise South land.
Bill Visnic, Edmunds.com senior analyst, has said in the past that he views it as pretty inevitable that another product will come to Chattanooga. But local leaders with the chamber have said they wouldn't use the word "inevitable."
To help achieve the goal of being the world's leading auto manufacturer, the company likely needs another product in North America.
"Let's face it—we're in a competition right now with Mexico," Corker said. "There are numbers of factors" that play into the decision, he said.
A Volkswagen spokesman said Thursday that there is no new information on where a new product might be made.
Volkswagen leaders have said that the United States market is an important piece of that plan, and Chattanooga's plant likely has a significant role in meeting those goals.
Corker said that he and state leaders have good relationships with Volkswagen leaders, such as CEO of Volkswagen AG Dr. Martin Winterkorn and CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga Frank Fischer.
Corker said he keeps in touch with Gov. Bill Haslam on the issue and that state leaders are putting forth a good effort to get the new product.
Recently, Haslam visited Volkswagen and said he is hopeful an expansion will come to Chattanooga.
Haslam said that state leaders have been going back and forth to Germany and have had German leaders come here for discussions on the topic.
Corker said that Volkswagen leaders love Chattanooga.
"The German business community is very aware how Chattanooga in general and Tennessee has supported their efforts here," he also said.
Nooga.com writer James Harrison contributed to this article.
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