Volkswagen Flings Cash, Jobs, and EVs at Chattanooga

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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.

[Images: Volkswagen]

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  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Jan 15, 2019

    Curious to see if they are serious. I am just about to bring home a 2013 Leaf as my oldest's first car. I was impressed driving it...felt like a normal slow car. Not worried about the lowish range in this scenario. If it works out I could see shopping a next gen electric in a few years especially since my F-150 wont be going anywhere should we need to take that road trip. I really want to spend some time with a higher end, sportier electric and see how they handle. I love my Fiesta ST and I cant see all that weight being that tossable.

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    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Jan 16, 2019

      @mcs I live in Huntsville Alabama and it's a short trip...he can have it preheat the cabin while it's plugged in and he should be fine (the car I'm buying is an S with the upgraded charger as the only option).

  • Vehic1 Vehic1 on Jan 15, 2019

    "Git you a horse! Why, in MY day, we walked forty MILES in the snow, barefoot - to hitch up the buggy for a ride into town - and we LIKED it!"

  • Lou_BC "They are the worst kind of partisan - the kind that loves their team more than they want to know the truth."Ummm...yeah....Kinda like birtherism, 2020 election stolen, vast voter fraud, he can have top secret documents at Mar-lago, he's a savvy business man, and hundreds more.
  • FreedMike This article fails to mention that Toyota is also investing heavily in solid state battery tech - which would solve a lot of inherent EV problems - and plans to deploy it soon. https://insideevs.com/news/598046/toyota-global-leader-solid-state-batery-patents/Of course, Toyota being Toyota, it will use the tech in hybrids first, which is smart - that will give them the chance to iron out the wrinkles, so to speak. But having said that, I’m with Toyota here - I’m not sold on an all EV future happening anytime soon. But clearly the market share for these vehicles has nowhere to go but up; how far up depends mainly on charging availability. And whether Toyota’s competitors are all in is debatable. Plenty of bet-hedging is going on among makers in the North American market.
  • Jeff S I am not against EVs but I completely understand Toyota's position. As for Greenpeace putting Toyota at the bottom of their environmental list is more drama. A good hybrid uses less gas, is cleaner than most other ICE, and is more affordable than most EVs. Prius has proven longevity and low maintenance cost. Having had a hybrid Maverick since April and averaging 40 to 50 mpg in city driving it has been smooth driving and very economical. Ford also has very good hybrids and some of the earlier Escapes are still going strong at 300k miles. The only thing I would have liked in my hybrid Maverick would be a plug in but it didn't come with it. If Toyota made a plug in hybrid compact pickup like the Maverick it would sell well. I would consider an EV in the future but price, battery technology, and infrastructure has to advance and improve. I don't buy a vehicle based on the recommendation of Greenpeace, as a status symbol, or peer pressure. I buy a vehicle on what best needs my needs and that I actually like.
  • Mobes Kind of a weird thing that probably only bothers me, but when you see someone driving a car with ball joints clearly about to fail. I really don't want to be around a car with massive negative camber that's not intentional.
  • Jeff S How reliable are Audi? Seems the Mazda, CRV, and Rav4 in the higher trim would not only be a better value but would be more reliable in the long term. Interior wise and the overall package the Mazda would be the best choice.
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