Volkswagen Flings Cash, Jobs, and EVs at Chattanooga
Volkswagen spent the past year and change hinting that its Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly plant could become ground zero for an electric American product offensive, and guess what? That’s exactly what VW plans to do.
In a not-at-all surprising announcement, the German automaker said it plans to build electric vehicles at its only American plant, which just happens to have plenty of excess capacity. Backing up this promise is $800 million, which, in addition to funding the necessary tooling, should lead to the creation of 1,000 new jobs.
While the first MEB-platform electric Volkswagen goes into production in Europe later this year, VW CEO Herbert Diess previously said he’d prefer to see American-market EVs built in America. As such, the I.D. hatchback, which U.S. customers won’t get, won’t roll out of Chattanooga. Instead, the Tennessee facility, which also builds the Atlas and Passat, will become home to the I.D. Crozz, a crossover due to start production in 2022.
“The US is one of the most important locations for us and producing electric cars in Chattanooga is a key part of our growth strategy in North America,” Diess said in a statement. “The management team, led by Scott Keogh, is committed to continuing to increase our market share in the coming years. Together with our ongoing investments and this increase in local production, we are strengthening the foundation for sustainable growth of the Volkswagen brand in the US.”
VW characterizes the I.D. Crozz, which might pick up a new name before its on-sale date, as having the interior space of a midsize SUV and the footprint of a compact. Joining the I.D. Crozz in the American market is a “multi-purpose EV” based on the I.D. Buzz microbus concept.
While VW plans to build the I.D. Crozz in Chattanooga, overseas plants coming online in 2020 means U.S. customers should be able to buy the crossover that year, ahead of American production.
“We could not be prouder to build the future of mobility here in the U.S.,” said Volkswagen Group of America CEO Scott Keogh. “We’re known as ‘the people’s car’ for a reason, and our EVs will build on that tradition.”
The MEB platform offers the company plenty of options in terms of design. Depending on configuration and purpose, an MEB vehicle can boast one or two motors powering the front, rear, or all four wheels. Driving range would top 300 miles. VW, of course, has big plans for the platform, as it literally forms the backbone of a product tsunami encompassing numerous bodystyles and price points.
The automaker’s goal is the annual sale of one million EVs by the target year of 2025.