Detroit Auto Show: VW Picks Chattanooga For U.S. EV Production

$800 Million Investment, 1,000 Jobs, Production Begins In 2022

 Last September, Volkswagen said it was looking for a location in the US to build electric vehicles. The German automaker already had an assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that was opened in 2011, but the company said that didn’t mean that’s where its new EV factory would be located. That said, it was no real surprise when VW announced this week at the Detroit Auto Show that it would expand its plant in Chattanooga to build electric vehicles in the U.S. Production is expected to start in 2022.

VW US EV Plant

VW’s existing U.S. plant will grow to take on EVs

“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,” said Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen AG. “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 said it will invest $800 million in the Tennessee plant to add an EV assembly line. The factory will employ 1,000 new workers as well as leading to many more jobs in the area for suppliers. Perhaps VW’s “ongoing investment” remark referred to SK Innovation, which last week reported it will spend $5 billion on a battery factory outside Atlanta, Georgia. Coincidentally, it expects that facility, only 118 miles from the VW plant, to be in full operation by 2022.

The First Electric VW

Volkswagen of America’s first electric vehicle to roll out the doors in Chattanooga will be the I.D. Crozz crossover, built off VW’s new, EV-specific MEB platform. That car’s MEB platform will spawn several more electric vehicles, including one called the I.D. Buzz, a “multi-purpose EV” based on the I.D. Buzz microbus concept. (Think VW’s much-loved vintage vans.)

VW US EV Plant

VW’s EVs will be made in America

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. In addition to Chattanooga, Volkswagen is building the first dedicated EV production facility in Zwickau, Germany, starting production by the end of 2019. Volkswagen will also add EV-production at facilities in Anting and Foshan, in China, in 2020, and in the German cities of Emden and Hanover by 2022.

VW forecasts that it will sell 150,000 EVs worldwide by 2020, and it expects that number to grow dramatically in short order. By 2025, VW says it will build 1 million electric vehicles each year. China is currently the world’s largest market for EVs, followed by the United States.

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About Author: Larry E. Hall

Larry E. Hall is the Editor-At-Large at Clean Fleet Report. His interest and passion for automobiles began at age 7, cleaning engine parts for his father, a fleet manager for a regional bakery. He has written about cars and the automobile industry for more than 25 years and has focused his attention on “green” cars and advanced technology vehicles. Larry’s articles have been published by Microsoft’s MSNBC.com and MSN Autos as their alternative vehicles correspondent, and is currently the Senior Editor at HybridCars.com. His work has appeared in metro and suburban newspapers as well as business publications and trade journals. He is the founding president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association and a member of the Motor Press Guild. Larry lives and drives in Olympia Wa. with his wife, Lynne, who shares his passion for cars.

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