A new report picks Volkswagen as the first incumbent global carmaker to make money selling electric vehicles with profits expected to arrive by 2022 — the same year VW Chattanooga begins building EVs.
Forbes magazine, citing a report by Swiss investment bank UBS, said the number of Volkswagen battery-powered vehicles sold will hit more than 15% of its global sales within five years. Tesla, now the No. 1 electric vehicle maker, is expected to come under pressure from VW, said Forbes.
VW's Chattanooga plant is undertaking an $800 million expansion to assemble the all-electric SUV, which Volkswagen said will be called the I.D.4. The new battery-powered SUV, which Volkswagen is now showing off images of what it will look like, will undergo assembly at a German plant for two years before production starts in Chattanooga.
The German automaker last week unveiled plans to hire 600 more people to produce the new Atlas Cross Sport SUV, the existing Atlas SUV and, eventually, the battery-powered vehicle.
"As we continue to grow our Tennessee operation as Volkswagen's North American hub for electric vehicle manufacturing, we must also grow our team," said Chattanooga plant CEO Tom du Plessis. "We want to be one of the top employers here."
The hiring boost will push VW's headcount in Chattanooga to more than 4,000 workers. Volkswagen is now Chattanooga's biggest manufacturing employer.
According to VW's latest plans, up to 1.5 million electric vehicles are to be produced globally as early as 2025 — which is more than it earlier envisioned.
The I.D.4 will sit in the heart of the world's most popular vehicle segment, the compact SUV market, and it will be the second to use VW's modular electric drive platform called MEB, according to VW. The I.D.3, a compact car, will hit the market soon, according to VW.
The I.D. name is an abbreviation for intelligent design, identity and visionary technologies, while the number 4 identifies the new model as a representative of the compact SUV segment, the company said.
The I.D.4 also will be launched in Europe in 2020 and later in the United States.
Scott Keogh, Volkswagen Group of America's CEO, said in Chattanooga recently that the plant will use the MEB global platform on which all of VW's battery-powered vehicles will sit.
"The MEB platform will make millions of cars, and millions of cars is the Holy Grail," he said. "Yes, in America, I do see it as a new opportunity. I very much want Volkswagen to take advantage of a new opportunity."
According to VW, the market launch of the ID. family is Volkswagen's No. 1 objective for 2020, and the first ID.3 will take to European roads this summer.
Over the next few years, Volkswagen aims to become a global leader in terms of electric mobility. To do so, the company is investing $37 billion across the VW Group by 2024.
Some $12.4 billion of that amount has been earmarked for the Volkswagen brand alone.
From 2021, a plant in Zwickau, Germany, will build up to 330,000 electric vehicles a year, making it Europe's largest such factory, according to VW.
Internationally, preparations for the launch of the ID. family are also in full swing in China as well as the U.S. Pre-production has already begun at a Chinese plant in Anting, according to the company.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.