Volkswagen today announced that it would use Chattanooga, Tennessee as its North American base for assembling electric cars.
The decision to expand its Chattanooga facility means that many, if not all, of the vehicles that will be sold in the U.S. under Volkswagen’s new electric vehicle initiative will also be built in the U.S., not Mexico.
Speculation began earlier in the fall as to where Volkswagen might set up shop to assemble its vehicles built on its modular electric platform, termed MEB. In September Volkswagen said that it was giving Chattanooga, where the U.S-market Passat sedan and Atlas SUV are currently made, serious consideration as one of 16 electric-vehicle manufacturing “e-locations” that will support a global ecosystem eventually capable of making a million VW Group electric vehicles per year.
At that point it hadn’t ruled out Mexico, and the massive manufacturing and logistics base it already has at Puebla. In a follow-up interview at the LA auto show in November, Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keogh told Green Car Reports that “we’re holding those conversations now.”
One of many pieces of information Volkswagen didn’t yet reveal is how many electric vehicles it intends to produce annually at Chattanooga. The move involves an $800 million investment and will bring 1,000 jobs to the plant, according to Volkswagen, with additional jobs at suppliers.
This push already includes a plant in Zwickau, Germany that’s being revamped to produce MEB vehicles starting in 2019. VW will add two assembly facilities in China in 2020 and two others in Germany in 2022.
Volkswagen ID Crozz concept
Volkswagen’s first vehicle on the platform for the U.S. market will be based on the ID Crozz, a compact crossover model, slated to arrive next year—before the Chattanooga plant is ready for electric-car production.
The Chattanooga plant expansion is to produce electric vehicles in 2022—which also happens to be when the electric revival of the Microbus, based on the ID Buzz concept, is due.