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VW's plant in Tenn. is front-runner for new SUV

DETROIT (AP) -- Volkswagen AG says its factory in Tennessee is the front-runner to build a new SUV.

Marc Trahan, executive vice president of quality for Volkswagen in the U.S., said at an Automotive Press Association luncheon on Tuesday that Volkswagen will decide by the end of this year where to build the seven-passenger SUV, which the company believes it needs in the U.S. market.

Trahan said the decision will be based on cost.

"Right now I'd have to say Chattanooga's in the lead," over factories in Mexico, he said.

Trahan would not discuss efforts by the United Auto Workers to organize workers at the plant, or say whether those efforts are part of the discussion about where to build the new SUV. The UAW said last week that a majority of workers in Chattanooga have signed cards seeking union representation.

The plant currently has two daily 10-hour shifts of workers making the Passat sedan four days a week. Trahan said if the SUV doesn't go there, something else will.

"Additional products will go in there," he said. "It's not a question of if but when."

Trahan said the SUV will likely go on sale in 2016 or 2017.