Volkswagen has unveiled the latest concept of its all-electric ID Crozz sport utility vehicle as the company set a target of offering 80 battery-powered models across its group by 2025.
The SUV is part of a long-term electrification plan in which VW is to invest $24 billion in upgrading plants, creating two new electric car platforms and training workers, the carmaker announced at a Frankfurt, Germany, auto show.
Dr. Herbert Diess, who heads the VW brand worldwide, said at its Chattanooga assembly plant two weeks ago that the industry is "really dramatically changing" because of electric drivetrains, more internet connectivity and autonomous driving.
VW has concepts for five fully electric cars covering most of the relevant segments with a plan to start sales in the United States in 2020 and 2021, he said.
"We will become more electric after 2020 worldwide, but also in the U.S.," Diess said.
He said production sites haven't been decided upon yet, but the electric vehicle architecture underpinning EVs is expected to come to North America.
"For us, electric cars will play a major role," Diess said. "We're really investing heavily in that new architecture."
The company said that depending on market developments it could sell 3 million battery-only vehicles a year in 2025.
Volkswagen AG CEO Matthias Mueller said in Frankfurt that "the big question that everyone is asking is, 'When will we see (electric cars) in mass volume?'"
He said it's not just a matter of what is being offered from manufacturers, but also the electric charging infrastructure.
Volkswagen is investing $2 billion in electric vehicle infrastructure in the U.S. as part of its court settlement for the diesel emission scandal as it installs charging stations across the country.
Diess said in Chattanooga the VW brand must improve its profit margins to help fund investments.
"We need to improve profits considerably in the U.S.," he said, as the automaker prepares for "the next phase" of electric, connected and autonomous vehicles. "The U.S. plays a major role in our strategy."
Diess cited plans announced last month to produce the ID Buzz, or an all-electric vehicle hearkening back to the popular Microbus that's to hit the market in 2022.
"We have not decided if we will build it in the U.S.," he said. "It will depend on volume perspectives. It's always on option."
Carmakers at the Frankfurt auto show revealed low-emissions vehicles and technology strategies they hope will let them profit from the sweeping changes expected to hit the auto industry in the next few years.
Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz unveiled a compact electric vehicle under its EQ sub-brand that showcases its efforts to make connected, electric, shared and autonomous vehicles.
BMW AG is showing off the four-door i Vision Dynamics electric concept vehicle to join its i3 and i8 electric models.
Automakers are spending heavily to develop and improve electric cars to meet increasingly tough government regulations limiting air pollution. That is even though current electric models do not enjoy high sales because of limited range, higher price, and a lack of fast-charging stations.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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