Volkswagen Flings Cash, Jobs, and EVs at Chattanooga

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
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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!"

  • Glennbk First, Cadillac no longer has brand cache. And as such, the prices need to drop. Second, reliability. Cadillac doesn't have that either. Dedicate GM funds to re-design the High Value Engines. Third, interiors are too gimmicky. Take a step back and bring back more buttons and less black plasti-chrome. Forth, noise isolation. These are supposed to be luxury cars, but sound like a Malibu inside.
  • Dave M. Mitsubishi for many years built stout vehicles for whatever market they were in (specifically citing Mighty Max and Montero). In the '90s they became the LCD for high-risk borrowers; coupled on top of mediocre and stale product, interest in them waned. Aim for the niches (hybrids, small pickup, base CUVs). I find it interesting that they have a plug-in CUV based on/made by Nissan, but Nissan doesn't.
  • Glennbk Please Mitsubishi, no more rebranded Nissan products.
  • Wolfwagen What I never see when they talk about electric trucks is how much do these things weigh and how much does that detract from the cargo-carrying capacity?
  • Wolfwagen I dont know how good the Triton is but if they could get it over here around the $25K - $30K They would probably sell like hotcakes. Make a stripped down version for fleet sales would also help