By on January 15, 2019

Volkswagen 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.”

2018 Volkswagen Atlas Chattanooga - Image: Volkswagen

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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17 Comments on “Volkswagen Flings Cash, Jobs, and EVs at Chattanooga...”

  • avatar

    I’m going to be in the market for a commuter EV in about 5 years. I need a range over 200 miles.

    I’m sure these will depreciate like a brick, being both electric and a volkswagen, at the same time. Hopefully I can pick up a two-year old model for $15k!

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    Congratulations to Chattanooga. Between that and the GM Spring Hill announcement, 2019 is off to a great start for the Tennessee auto industry.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Good. I’m cautiously optimistic that VW is joining the small number of companies who are serious about EVs.

  • avatar

    I’m not paying to upgrade my electrical service just for a damn car. ICE vehicles will outlive me.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I’m sorry to hear your electrical box is maxed out.

      I simply added a double 40 breaker to my 50-year-old 150-Amp box, and a run of 8 or 10 AWG wire for about $50 in parts back in 2012. The power demand is about the same as an electric range. You’ve been misled if you thought otherwise.

      With my Ioniq EV, my monthly electric bill has rocketed up by about $30 to drive 1200 miles/month.

      ICE vehicles will outlive me, too.

      • 0 avatar

        Batteries bad. Treacherous, evil tricksters they be, especially in winter.

        • 0 avatar

          “especially in winter.”

          Really? I just made a 50-mile trip this morning without a problem in 14f degree weather with an EV with 77k miles on the battery. How are they a problem? Last year, I made a trip from Smithfield RI to North of Boston in -4f degree temps in an EV. Saw several combustion cars dead on the side of the road during the trip. Was it their batteries? My buddies heat wasn’t working well in his combustion-mobile that same day. Must have been the battery.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Some unsolicited advice from a former Leaf 1.0 owner:

      1. The range meter is known as the ‘guess-o-meter’. It is optimistic.
      2. Do not divide the stated range by 2 and figure that’s how far you can drive before turning around.
      3. IIRC, the low battery warning comes on around 20 miles, and turtle mode happens around 2 miles. These are not fun moments.
      4. Don’t fill to 100% unless you plan to drive it immediately. Holding at a full charge is bad juju for the battery.
      5. Learn your car’s behavior by comparing the trip odometer and stated range, and noting the ambient temperature. Cold weather can soak up to 50% of the stated range.
      6. Don’t trust the navigation unit. Mine (2012) routinely took me the wrong way, and I finally gave up on it.
      7. Enjoy the Leaf! I loved driving mine.

      As for the higher-end, sportier EV: I’ve driven the Model S-P85 and 3. That weight is tossable. You could look for a Tesla test drive event in your area, which they schedule from time to time. Their sales people are pretty cool – no pressure.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Thanks. His triangle goes like 10 miles between school, work, and home so I think it’ll work well. It’s a basic, low mileage modern car that happens to be electric in that perspective. As a bonus he won’t be bumming gas money and returning my cars on E. If he needs to go farther I taught him to drive a stick so he can take any of our other rides. I’m looking forward to driving it some too.

      • 0 avatar

        Buy a Chevy Bolt. The GOM is pretty darn accurate. It even accounts for the drop in efficiency due to the colder temperatures. The Bolt also has a system in place to warm and cool the battery pack as needed. Not so in the leaf. Cold weather in the Bolt reduces your overall range by about 20%, not 50% as in the leaf. The Bolt uses Google map or Waze for navigation. They appear to be very reliable.

        • 0 avatar

          “Buy a Chevy Bolt.”

          That would require both finding one and spending probably triple what he is for the ’13 Leaf.

          There are 5 new and 0 used Bolts within 100 miles of me; the new ones start at 38K. That’s hefty kid’s-first-car money for most.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            For my 17 year old to roll back and forth to school in because there is no school bus where I live (windy, steep road)? A new Car? That’s crazy talk.

            If I get a hankering for something electric for myself it will be a more performance oriented one, but if I am brutally honest with myself what I really want when the Fiesta STs lease is up is…an LS swapped and completely restored Third Gen Camaro with a Van Halen cassette stuck in the dash and a front licence plate that says “B!+c#!n\'” on the front. But car guys are fickle so I could end up with a Tesla lol.

        • 0 avatar

          blockmachining: “not 50% as in the leaf.”

          I’m only seeing about a 30% drop at 14F in a Leaf 1.5. earlier Leafs were worse because of the lack of a heat pump.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            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).

  • avatar

    “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!”

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