At its press conference at the North American International Automotive Show this week, Volkswagen announced its first production location in North America. The Chattanooga plant in Tennessee is to produce vehicles based on the MEB modular electric toolkit. VW is investing about €700m (US$800m) in the plant.
This expansion will create up to 1,000 new jobs plus additional jobs at suppliers. The first electric car from Chattanooga is to roll off the production line in 2022 and will be the ID Crozz SUV. Volkswagen will also offer the ID Buzz in North America.
Over the next few years, eight MEB plants are to be developed in Europe, North America and China as the OEM builds up the production capacity needed to sell more than one million electric cars per year by 2025.
“The USA 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 Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen. “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 USA.”
“We could not be prouder to build the future of mobility here in the USA,” added Scott Keogh, CEO and president of Volkswagen Group of America. “We’re known as ‘The people’s car’ for a reason, and our EVs will build on that tradition.” In addition, the Chattanooga plant will continue to produce the Atlas and the Passat.
In Europe meanwhile, Volkswagen Group is establishing a company focused on energy offerings and charging solutions. Elli Group, which is to be headquartered in Berlin, Germany, will develop products and services connected with energy and charging for the brands of the company.
“As one of the world’s largest auto makers, Volkswagen is going to force the pace of the urgently needed transport and energy transition to emission-neutral e-mobility,” explained Thomas Ulbrich, Volkswagen brand board member responsible for e-mobility. “The new company will play its part with energy offerings from renewable sources and smart-charging solutions. This way, we are entering a strategically relevant, extremely exciting business area that offers considerable opportunities for strengthening ties with existing customers, as well as accessing entirely new customer groups.”
Thorsten Nicklaß will be CEO of Elli, and has announced that the new Volkswagen Group company would also offer green power from renewable sources (that is 100% CO2-neutral) to customers outside the Group. Nicklaß, formerly CEO of the Digital Energy Solutions joint venture, added, “Our mission is to take e-mobility out of its niche and to place it firmly in the mainstream. The name ‘Elli’ stands for ‘electric life’, because we intend to enable a lifestyle that fully integrates the electric car in people’s everyday lives. This approach could be compared with the use of a mobile phone, which is taken for granted nowadays.”
The company will gradually build up a portfolio of intelligent power tariffs, wallboxes and charging stations, as well as an IT-based energy management system. “We will be creating a seamless, sustainable ecosystem that addresses the main applications and provides answers to all the energy questions raised by electric car users and fleet operators,” explains Nicklaß.
Up to the market launch of the Volkswagen ID (the first model based on the MEB modular electric toolkit) in 2020, the company will successively roll out a large number of solutions for private and commercial e-mobility customers – ranging from hardware to charging, additional digital services and complete advice packages.