Taking a small step forward down a long road to change a soiled reputation, Volkswagen says it will build electric cars in North America by 2020.
During an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Hinrich Woebcken, the new head of Volkswagen AG’s U.S. operations said that a plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee and a facility in Mexico are among those being considered for production of the cars.
Woebcken declined to give specific details but said multiple models would be built.
Politically, the wise choice would be the Chattanooga factory as U.S. regulators are pushing auto manufacturers to offer more electric vehicles.
“We believe that this country, especially in urban mobility, will have a very strong shift from petrol engines into hybridization and electric cars,” said Woebcken to the Journal. “We are heavily investing in this one—including production in this North American region.”
Volkswagen building electric vehicles isn’t exactly news.
Just before the Dieselgate emissions scandal became headlines last September, VW revealed a plan to introduce 20 all-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles by 2020, saying the new cars would be “smartphones on wheels.”
That announcement was followed last month when CEO Matthias Müller said the company plans to launch more than 30 “fully electric new vehicles” by 2025.
Considering that the Volkswagen Group offers just three battery-electric cars — VW e-Up, e-Golf and Audi R8 e-tron — 30 new models in 10 years would appear to be a nearly impossible task.
Whatever the number is, building EVs on this side of the Atlantic could help clear the air for VW to move forward.
Plus, the company’s e-Golf, the only Volkswagen EV sold in the U.S, could use some help. Through June sales tallied just 1,455 units.