October 23, 2018 06:01 CET
DRESDEN, Germany — Volkswagen plans to build up to three electric vehicle models in North America and will decide by year end whether to produce them in Chattanooga.
Starting in November 2019, series production of the brand’s battery- powered I.D. hatchback will begin in Zwickau, Germany.
Volkswagen Group has designated production of 26 other EV models by the end of 2022 at 16 locations around the globe, including one in North America.
“We think there is a natural fit to Chattanooga, but definitely there is no decision so far,” said Thomas Ulbrich, member of VW brand’s executive board responsible for electric mobility.
He downplayed speculation that vehicles built on VW’s MEB global EV platform could be made in Mexico, where the group’s largest North American plant is in Puebla.
VW late last year began advertising on social media sites such as LinkedIn for small numbers of specialized positions in Chattanooga to support its MEB platform.
Ulbrich, a production expert, managed VW brand’s global manufacturing operations from April 2014 until February. Asked whether VW had evaluated other U.S. sites for EV production, he said: “There were loose talks held because we had been invited,” but that VW first focuses on production growth at existing sites before expanding the search to outside candidates.
“It’s our goal to finish the negotiations by the end of this year,” he said.
During a presentation at the former VW Phaeton factory in Dresden, Ulbrich said three VW brand EVs are slated for North America.
An electric crossover, the Volkswagen I.D. Crozz, is expected to be its first and most popular battery-powered vehicle for the U.S. Others might include a larger seven-seat SUV and the retro-styled I.D. Buzz minivan.
You can reach Christiaan Hetzner at firstname.lastname@example.org.