Volkswagen EV sales up 74% in U.S. amid strength of Chattanooga-made ID.4

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Pablo Di Si, Volkswagen Group of America's chief executive, speaks during the launch celebration for the Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV at the Chattanooga assembly plant in 2022.
Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Pablo Di Si, Volkswagen Group of America's chief executive, speaks during the launch celebration for the Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV at the Chattanooga assembly plant in 2022.

Volkswagen's group sales of electric vehicles worldwide surged for the year through September, with the United States racking up a 74% jump over 2022 on the strength of the Chattanooga-made ID.4 SUV, the automaker reported Friday.

"We showed a good overall performance in our all-electric deliveries with a global increase of 45% in the first nine months," said Hildegard Wortmann, a member of the group's extended executive committee for sales.

But the order intake for the group, which includes its VW brand as well as Audi and Porsche, is below its targets due to a lower-than-expected overall market trend, Wortmann said in a statement.

The group's most successful EV models in the first nine months of 2023 were the ID.4 along with its sister vehicle, the ID.5, which is not sold in the U.S. Production of the ID.4 in VW's Chattanooga assembly plant started in the summer. It's also built in Germany.

(READ MORE: ID.4 production officially launched in Chattanooga)

Pablo Di Si, Volkswagen Group of America's chief executive, said in an interview at the Chattanooga plant this year the ID.4 is well-positioned in the market.

He said the ID.4, assembled in Chattanooga alongside the conventionally powered Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs, is the only electric vehicle produced by a foreign automaker for which buyers can receive the full U.S. government tax credit.

The Volkswagen brand is currently playing in just one segment for electric SUVs with the ID.4, Di Si said.

"We've got a lot of room in improving in SUVs," he said at the factory that employs 5,000 workers.

In 2024, the U.S. is slated to see the ID.Buzz, the electric van harking back to the iconic Microbus.

"It's tailor-made for the U.S.," Di Si said, citing the Buzz's three-row configuration that will be larger than the two-row version now sold in Europe. The Buzz, made in Germany, will be shipped to the U.S.

Volkswagen's group Friday posted total overall global deliveries, which were up 7.4% in the third quarter to 2.34 million. High demand in Europe and North America offset a decline in China, the German automaker reported.

In China, deliveries fell 5.8% to 837,200, the company said, joining rival German carmakers in reporting a quarterly decline there.

For the year through September, Volkswagen's group sold 531,500 all-electric vehicles, up from 366,600 in the prior-year period, the company said. EV sales in Europe grew 61% to 341,100, while the U.S. posted the 74% gain to 50,300, according to VW.

Volkswagen invested $800 million to ready the Chattanooga factory to produce EVs, including a battery-pack assembly shop and a battery engineering lab. The plant hired about 1,200 more employees to meet production levels and go to a third shift.

(READ MORE: Volkswagen gives up 182-acre option near plant)

Looking ahead, Di Si said in the interview he sees enhanced technology in its vehicles as the company develops more know-how. He added VW's supply chain will grow in Tennessee and in the U.S.

"I think we'll get more muscle," he quipped.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

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