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

Update: ‘2022 VW ID.4 variants in the United States,’ ‘VW ID.4 orders cross 50,000 units worldwide,’ and ‘Electrify America announces doubling of charging network’ sections updated.

The VW ID.4, shipped from the Zwickau factory in Germany, is in U.S. dealer showrooms, but at a high base price of USD 40,760 (before subsidy). Switching to locally produced units from the Chattanooga plant this year, 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, 2021. 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 the end of this year, 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

Series production advanced from September 2022 to mid-2022

The wait for the USD 35,000 ID.4 might not be as long as previously thought. In September 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 in October 2021, Keogh confirmed mid-2022 as the new SOP (Start Of Production) 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

This is great news for customers who are waiting for the cheaper or locally-produced product as in March 2021, Keogh had told NewsNet (via Vimeo) that the series production (rollout of the ‘real’ cars for consumer sales) of ID.4 at the Chattanooga plant would start only 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

With the new timeline, the USD 35,000 ID.4 should reach showrooms this summer. Preparing for production, Volkswagen Group 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.

The locally manufactured ID.4 should see a noticeably higher demand. What is now assumed as the 2023 VW ID.4 will feature a revised, “American-style” center console, as per a Car And Driver report. Volkswagen will source the U.S.-built ID.4’s battery pack from SKI, not LG, although the chemistry will be similar.

Globally, Volkswagen expected ID.4 deliveries to cross 100,000 units in 2021. In the U.S., the company sold 16,742 ID.4s last year.

ID.4 production brings new jobs to Chattanooga

To prepare for the production of the ID.4 at the Chattanooga plant in the U.S., Volkswagen is planning to increase its workforce. The company already had 4,000 people working at this facility, and it plans to hire approximately 1,000 employees by the end of this year, bringing the total up to 5,000, as per a report from Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Novonix broke ground for the country’s first anode manufacturing facility in Chattanooga on November 22, 2021. It will produce synthetic graphite anode material used in lithium-ion batteries. FoxChattanooga cites Novonix CEO Chris Burns confirming the supply of pieces for VW’s EV batteries. This production site will add 290 more jobs to the city.

2022 VW ID.4 variants in the United States

2022 VW ID.4 ConfigurationPrice (MSRP)
ID.4 Pro RWDUSD 40,760
ID.4 Pro AWDUSD 44,440
ID.4 Pro S RWDUSD 45,260
ID.4 Pro S AWDUSD 48,940
ID.4 Pro S Gradient RWDUSD 47,155
ID.4 Pro S Gradient AWDUSD 50,835
All configurations cost USD 1,195 destination charge extra and are eligible for a potential federal tax credit of up to USD 7,500.

The 2022 VW ID.4’s prices start at USD 40,760 and go up to USD 50,835. Volkswagen levies an additional USD 1,195 destination charge across the range. Customers can avail a Federal tax credit of up to USD 7,500.

The 2022 ID.4 supports a higher charging power of 135 kW (2021 ID.4: 125 kW). Volkswagen expects the updated model to also deliver an improved range. For reference, the 2021 ID.4’s EPA-est. range was 260 miles (Pro RWD)/249 miles (Pro AWD)/250 miles (1st Edition RWD & Pro S RWD)/240 miles (Pro S AWD). Moreover, unlike the outgoing model, the ID.4 offers a Plug and Charge feature at Electrify America charging stations, although Volkswagen plans to enable it later.

With Plug & Charge enabled, customers would no longer have to go through the fuss of the charging card authentication process to charge their ID.4 at fast-charging stations. Per the ISO 15118 standard, this technology involves encrypted and secure communication between the vehicle and the charging equipment. The automatic authentication after plugging in takes just a few seconds, and then the charging starts without needing any further customer input. Electrify America, Volkswagen’s charging partner in the U.S., already offers this feature at its ultra-fast charging stations since November 2020.

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 company’s R&D chief, 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 40,760 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 33,260.

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 44,990-58,990, while the Model Y, which is a crossover like the ID.4, costs USD 58,990 for the Long Range variant and a stiff USD 63,990 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

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 United States. 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 ID.4 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 December 2021, the company had sold 16,742 units and received 40,000+ reservations.

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)

Volkswagen accelerating U.S. EV launches

Volkswagen will increase focus on electrification in the U.S., suggested a Bloomberg report citing Ulbrich. 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.”

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 percent, Dr. Diess said after announcing the New Auto long-term strategy in July 2021, as per Automotive News. He added that the decision for future Volkswagens in the U.S. beyond the ID.4 and ID. Buzz is 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)

By the end 2021, the U.S. was to have 800 Electrify America charging stations with more than 3,500 DC fast chargers. Electrify America plans to expand its charging network to more than 1,800 stations with 10,000 ultra-fast chargers installed/under development in the U.S. and Canada by 2026.

Featured Image Source: LinkedIn/Scott Keogh