Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Volkswagen ID.4 electric crossover is still due to start deliveries later this year. An expansion of VW's Chattanooga, Tennessee, factory that will allow the ID.4 to later be built locally is also on schedule for 2022.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported Wednesday that equipment for the factory expansion is being shipped, and VW is looking to hire employees for the ID.4 assembly line, with the first pre-production vehicles scheduled for 2021. When it broke ground on the expansion last year, VW said it would add 1,000 jobs in Chattanooga.
Construction work to expand an existing body shop and raise a new building for battery-pack assembly is over 70% complete, according to the report. While vehicle assembly at the factory, which currently builds the gasoline Passat sedan and Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport crossovers, stopped for about two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, construction continued, the report said.
VW plans to source battery cells from South Korean firm SK Innovation, which is building a cell factory in Commerce, Georgia. However, SK Innovation is locked in a legal dispute with rival South Korean battery maker LG Chem, which alleges trade secret theft and is seeking to block SK Innovation from manufacturing battery cells in the U.S.
Volkswagen Chattanooga EV expansion
In a statement to Green Car Reports, VW said it "takes no position" in the dispute between the two battery makers. However the automaker said preventing SK Innovation from supplying batteries as planned would have a widespread negative economic impact.
"This will, as a result, directly impact U.S. employment and training opportunities, U.S. automobile dealers, and U.S. consumers interested in purchasing competitively-priced EVs," VW said.
In March, VW officially confirmed the ID.4 and its U.S. arrival, but it still hasn't fully detailed or revealed the vehicle. However, we know the ID.4 will be closely related to the ID.3 hatchback scheduled to start deliveries in Europe later this year. Both vehicles are based on VW's MEB platform for electric cars.
The company plans to price electric cars closely with internal-combustion models—potentially after considering the EV tax credit though.