VW Chattanooga expects assembly to grow by a third in 2024

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Workers walk in as vehicles roll off the line during the launch celebration for the Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV at the Chattanooga assembly plant in 2022. The 2024 model is due to arrive at dealerships in the spring.
Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Workers walk in as vehicles roll off the line during the launch celebration for the Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV at the Chattanooga assembly plant in 2022. The 2024 model is due to arrive at dealerships in the spring.

Volkswagen Chattanooga expects plant production to surge by more than a third this year, boosted in part by the enhanced 2024 ID.4 that's slated to hit dealerships this spring.

The factory expects to build about 234,000 vehicles this year, up from 174,000 in 2023, according to the company at a briefing Thursday. The plant assembles the ID.4 electric SUV along with the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs in Chattanooga.

The ID.4 posted an 84.2% sales growth last year, and about 70% of those went to buyers new to the automaker, Pablo Di Si, Volkswagen Group of America's chief executive, said in an interview.

"It's well positioned," he said about the ID.4 that Volkswagen of America put at accounting for 11.5% of all vehicles it sold last year.

(READ MORE: Volkswagen Chattanooga rolls out electric SUV)

For 2024, the vehicle is upgraded for more power and technology, the company said.

The 2024 ID.4 will be available in three trim levels — Standard/Pro, S and S Plus — with the option of 62 kilowatt-hour or 82 kilowatt-hour batteries, as well as rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, according to VW.

A new performance drive unit will go into the 82 kWh models, which Volkswagen said will deliver greater horsepower and range for both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive models compared to the prior model year.

Also, a new 12.9-inch infotainment display with backlit sliders is set for the 82 kWh models, according to VW.

On the outside, wheel upgrades enhance the 2024 vehicle, according to the automaker. ID.4 Standard all-wheel drive models will feature larger, 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, and S Plus vehicles will run on 21-inch machined alloy wheels.

The Environmental Protection Agency's estimated ranges for the 2024 ID.4 will be available closer to market introduction, as will pricing, the company said.

According to Volkswagen, most 2023 and 2024 model year ID.4 SUVs are eligible for the full federal $7,500 tax credit this year.

(READ MORE: Most Volkswagen ID.4s eligible for tax credit)

Volkswagen is the only foreign automaker with an eligible full-electric vehicle so far, according to the website fueleconomy.gov.

The Chattanooga plant, which is producing about 51 ID.4 and Atlas vehicles per hour, has gone to three shifts and announced last year it was hiring another 500 employees. That put the factory at about 5,500 workers.

Karl Brauer, executive analyst for the auto research website iSeeCars.com, said while there's definitely growth in the electric vehicle market generally, the rate of increase has fallen off a bit.

"Total volume and percent of the total market both are up for EVs," he said by phone.

But questions about the nation's charging infrastructure, along with typically higher prices for EVs, are factors, Brauer said.

"A lot of people don't have confidence in the infrastructure," he said.

According to Volkswagen of America, the company is taking advantage of America's shift to SUVs, both in electric and conventional powertrains, and it expects to continue to do so in the future.

In 2013, 91% of its sales were cars, the company said. Now, 82% of sales are SUVs.

The company said plans are to continue to focus on the SUV segment, which is growing the most and profitable.

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

Upcoming Events