U.S. VW ID.4 production in Chattanooga to begin sooner, suggests CEO

The VW ID.4, shipped from the Zwickau factory in Germany, is finally in the U.S., but at a high base price of USD 39,995 (before subsidy). Switching to locally produced units from the Chattanooga plant in 2022, Volkswagen hopes to slash the base price to around USD 35,000.

Test or trial production of the ID.4 at the Chattanooga facility has commenced, Scott Keogh, the CEO of Volkswagen’s American subsidiary, announced on LinkedIn on August 20, 2020. The milestone unit, seen in the picture below, features the Glacier White paint. Volkswagen Group wants eight factories on three continents to start rolling out MEB EV models by 2022, and its American plant in Chattanooga will be one of them.

VW ID.4 Chattanooga plant assembly line
The first unit Volkswagen test-produced at the Chattanooga plant features the Glacier White body color and what looks like the 20-inch Ystad wheels. These vehicles are not for sale to consumers. Image: VW

The wait for the USD 35,000 ID.4 might not be as long as previously thought. So, On September 16, 2021, Bloomberg reported after an interview with Keogh at the Chattanooga plant that local production (for customer deliveries) will begin in June 2022. In an interview with Driving Today this week, Keogh stated mid-2022 (May-August 2022) as the latest SOP timeline.

Some of the early prototype cars are coming down – we just did some testing last week, so they look great – and then the first cars that we sell to customers will come down in the middle of next year.

Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen (USA) to Driving Today in October 2021

In March 2021, Keogh had told NewsNet (via Vimeo) that the series production (roll out of the ‘real’ cars for consumer sales) of ID.4 at the Chattanooga plant will start in September 2022. It is interesting to see that while other automakers face a delay in their new EV production schedules because of the ongoing semiconductor chip shortage, Volkswagen manages the exact opposite.

It’s (EV adoption is) about American jobs, it’s about the environment, and competitiveness of America, and we at Volkswagen are, frankly, fully on board with that. That’s exactly what we’re doing in Chattanooga. That’s exactly what we’re doing with the launch of the ID.4. We have vehicle assembly and battery assembly. Both the facilities are built, robots are in, software is being fine-tuned, we are doing some initial runs, some initial tests. Real cars will come out of the plant in September of next year.

Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen (USA) to NewsNet on the ID.4, in March 2021

The USD 35,000 ID.4 could reach showrooms in the summer of 2022. Preparing for production, Volkswagen Group has ordered hundreds of robots from Japanese robotics company FANUC for its Chattanooga manufacturing facility. The company plans to use the robots to produce the body and assemble the ID model’s battery.

Globally, Volkswagen expects ID.4 deliveries to cross 100,000 units this year alone. The United States should be the biggest export market for the ID.4 outside Europe. Here are the configurations and release details announced in the U.S.:

Current VW ID.4 variants & availability in the United States

ConfigurationPrice (MSRP)Range (EPA)Availability/Deliveries
ID.4 Pro RWDUSD 39,995260 milesOn sale now
ID.4 Pro AWDUSD 43,675249 milesQ4 2021 (October-December 2021)
ID.4 1st EditionUSD 43,995250 milesOn sale now (orders closed)
ID.4 Pro S RWDUSD 44,495250 milesOn sale now
ID.4 Pro S AWDUSD 48,175240 milesQ4 2021 (October-December 2021)
Variants and release dates of the VW ID.4 in the United States. All configurations cost USD 1,195 destination charge and are eligible for a potential federal tax credit of up to USD 7,500

The VW ID.4 went on sale in the U.S. in the First Edition RWD configuration costing USD 43,995 in early 2021. The Pro RWD configuration with an MSRP of USD 39,995 followed in summer. The deliveries of the Pro AWD and Pro S AWD configurations will begin this quarter (October-December 2021).

Volkswagen expects the ID.4 to account for a third of the brand’s electric car sales by 2025, Ralf Brandstätter, its CEO, and Thomas Ulbrich, the member of the board of management responsible for e-mobility, had revealed in October 2020. By 2025, VW aims to have 1.5 million electric vehicles sold annually, with half a million accounted for by the ID.4 electric SUV alone. So the carmaker certainly has a strategy to ensure the VW ID.4 tops the sales of electric vehicles.

US-spec VW ID.4 interior dashboard driver side
Sales of the Made In USA VW ID.4 are expected to accelerate when a sub-30,000 USD variant (including subsidy) comes available. Image Source: Volkswagen

In its advertising, VW says the ID.4 is a car for “the millions, not the millionaires,” and while the USD 39,995 price of the ID.4 is higher than the average price of a new car purchased in the United States (which is around USD 36,000), after potential federal EV tax credits of USD 7,500 the ID.4’s price falls to USD 32,495.

At this price, the ID.4 will compete with gas-powered crossovers and SUVs like the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Toyota RAV4, or entry-level electric hatchbacks like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt. The Tesla Model 3’s prices range from USD 37,990-54,990, and it may give the VW ID.4 some competition. However, the Model Y, which has a similar crossover shape as the ID.4, costs USD 53,990 for the Long Range variant and a stiff USD 60,990 for the Performance variant.

And though Tesla has a head-start on production, VW will be making the ID.4 at three locations and five factories – two in Europe (Zwickau & Emden), two in China (Anting and Foshan), and one in the USA (Chattanooga) – chasing world domination in EVs.

US-spec VW ID.4 rear quarters
An 82 kWh battery makes the VW ID.4 capable of going up to 260 miles on a full charge. The electric SUV has its work cut out in convincing buyers of the CR-V and RAV4 to switch to a battery-powered vehicle. Image Source: Volkswagen

The production rate at Tesla’s Shanghai plant has crossed 250,000 EVs/annum. Eventually, this plant could make as many as 1 million Tesla cars per year (which will include the ‘Tesla Model 2‘ and export volume). The upcoming Tesla Gigafactory Berlin aims to add a further half million units. Then, the Gigafactory Texas would produce the Model Y for the Eastern United States.

With Tesla’s massive production push, the VW ID.4 has its work cut out. Aside from regaining consumer trust after the Dieselgate scandal, the ID.4 has to appeal and convince the Honda CR-V & Toyota RAV4 buyers that they are getting a piece of what Tesla offers sans the premium pricing.

IIHS Top Safety Pick+ SUV

The VW ID.4 is one of the 70 IIHS Top Safety Pick+ models in the U.S. Here’s how the VW electric car did at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s crash tests:

Video Source: YouTube/IIHS

The VW ID.4 has earned a decent rating for the standard LED headlights and a good rating for the LED projector headlights. The zero-emission compact SUV has bagged an advanced rating for its pedestrian front crash prevention and a superior rating for its vehicle front crash prevention. It includes a front radar, a front camera, two rear radars, and eight ultrasound sensors for its driver assistance system in its fully loaded configuration.

Germany to America: The Zwickau-made ID.4’s journey

Volkswagen started shipping the VW ID.4 it makes in Zwickau, Germany, to the U.S. in February 2021. The company shipped the EVs from the factory to The Port of Emden using a rail network and loaded them onto the Siem Aristotle. The LNG-powered car carrier ship delivered the EVs to the U.S. at the Port of Davisville in Rhode Island. According to a report from Automotive Logistics, this journey from the German factory to the American port is 27 days.

VW ID.4 to get software updates every 3 months

In July 2021, Volkswagen announced the first OTA software updates for the ID. family. Moreover, the company said that it plans to roll out software updates for the ID. EVs every twelve weeks.

Volkswagen calls the software version “ID.Software2.3,” which brings adjustments and improvements to performance, operations, and comfort. The new software improves vehicle stability, enhances ID. Light functionalities and optimizes surroundings recognition and main beam control. Lastly, it brings design modification to the infotainment system and improves operability.

VW ID.4 orders cross 50,000 units worldwide

Volkswagen received 57,000 orders for the ID4 five months after its launch, Volkswagen Group CEO Dr. Herbert Diess revealed at Volkswagen Group Annual General Meeting 2021 in July 2021. Dr. Diess said that Volkswagen sold two-thirds of the volume in Europe and the remaining equally in the U.S. and China. In the U.S., deliveries began in March 2021, and by the end of September 2021, the company had sold 12,279 units.

The ID.4 has already surpassed the 50,000 mark five months after its launch, with orders currently totaling 57,000. Two-thirds of deliveries go to Europe and the remaining third is split evenly between the U.S. and China. The ID.4 is a world car.

Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO, Volkswagen Group (Volkswagen Group Annual General Meeting 2021)

Worldwide, Volkswagen delivered 37,292 units of the ID.4 in the first half of 2021. Volkswagen Group says that it more than doubled sales of EVs globally in H1 2021 by delivering 170,939 units. In the U.S., the Group-wide EV sales for the H1 2021 period were 18,514 units.

Volkswagen accelerating U.S. EV launches

Volkswagen will increase focus on electrification in the U.S., suggests a Bloomberg report citing Thomas Ulrich, the company’s R&D chief. Such a move could mean more product launches and faster rollouts.

When U.S. President Joe Biden proposed a USD 174 billion investment to spur EV demand and show the federal government’s strong commitment to EVs, it motivated the German automaker to “realign” its U.S. EV strategy “in a massive way,” and it may finalize the changes later this year during its annual investment review.

Volkswagen has almost sold out all the ID.4s which it can deliver in the U.S. this year. The electric SUV’s demand could increase noticeably next year when the sourcing changes to the local factory and prices go down. In 2023, the VW ID. Buzz will arrive in the U.S. as the second dedicated EV in the country from the German brand.

With such popular models from the core brand and other marques, Volkswagen Group could increase market share in the U.S. two-fold to 10%, Dr. Diess said after announcing the New Auto long-term strategy in July 2021, as per Automotive News. Dr. Diess said that the decision for future Volkswagens in the U.S. beyond the ID.4 and ID. Buzz is still pending, but the sales of models from Audi, Porsche, Bentley, and Lamborghini would grow its market share in the country.

Electrify America announces doubling of charging network

While Volkswagen Group expands its EV line-up in the U.S., Electrify America plans to rapidly expand the country’s charging network and support the company’s EV offensive. The nation’s largest ‘open’ DC fast-charging network will more than double its footprint by 2025. That’s what Elke Temme, Head of Charging and Energy, Volkswagen Group Components, confirmed at the Volkswagen Group New Auto event in July 2021.

Today, Electrify America already provides the largest open network of DC fast chargers in the U.S. and is serving all models of electric vehicles on the market. I’m excited to announce that we will push our commitment into the charging network even further. Electrify America will more than double the total amount of the existing charging sites in 2025. Just let me repeat it will more than double. This means that we will have in total 10,000 charging points at this time.

Elke Temme, Head of Charging and Energy, Volkswagen Group Components (Volkswagen Group New Auto)

Featured Image Source: LinkedIn/Scott Keogh