Volkswagen is betting that the future of automotive propulsion will be largely electric. In mid-November, the German automaker announced that it had increased its planned spending on pure-electric vehicles to some $33 billion through 2024, covering new battery-electric vehicles to be sold under the Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi, and other brands.

For Volkswagen’s namesake brand, the culmination of this colossal investment will be the Volkswagen ID. series – a pure-electric sub-brand whose name officially stands for “intelligent design, identity, and visionary technologies,” per Volkswagen.

The name “ID.” highlights to what extent Volkswagen sees pure-electric propulsion as integral to its future. The sub-brand was born at the 2016 Paris Motor Show with the reveal of the compact Volkswagen ID. hatchback concept – a car that would later make it to market as the ID.3. Unlike the battery-electric e-Golf that came before it, the ID.3 was envisioned and engineered as a pure EV from the start, utilizing the new, purpose-built modular “MEB” platform for battery-electric vehicles. That same malleable EV platform will underpin a great number of the Volkswagen Group’s future electric vehicles.

Unfortunately for eco-conscious North American motorists, the Volkswagen ID.3 hatchback will not be sold in that market. However, Volkswagen’s follow-up ID.-branded EV model – a pure-electric crossover believed to be named “ID.4” – will launch in North America by the end of 2020. The model will most likely take after the ID. CROZZ concepts shown in Shanghai and Frankfurt in 2017, and will share its MEB underpinnings with the ID.3, as well as another half-dozen or so new pure-electric Volkswagen models.

Volkswagen ID. CROZZ electric crossover concept.

Those additional ID. models will take after concepts such as the ID. BUZZ electric micro-bus, ID. VIZZION electric sedan, and ID. ROOMZZ electric utility vehicle.

Why Does It Matter?

It’s unlikely that Volkswagen will transition entirely to a battery-electric vehicle brand any time soon; in most parts of the world, internal combustion engines are still far more practical and livable. Yet the significance of Volkswagen’s electric ID. sub-brand is hard to overstate. The German automaker has set a goal to sell one million pure-electric vehicles worldwide by the end of 2023, which is ambitious given that it only just sold its 250,000th battery-electric car earlier this month.

To put the Volkswagen Group’s $33-billion EV investment into perspective, in January, 2018, Ford Motor Company announced plans to invest $11 billion – a third of that amount – by 2022 in order to bring 16 battery-electric and 24 plug-in-hybrid models to market. Volkswagen’s $33 billion is expected to cover a total of 75 new pure-electric models by 2029, including vehicle lines from Volkswagen brands like Audi, Porsche, and SEAT.

What’s more, Volkswagen will invest another $33 billion or so into new hybrid models and digital technologies, presumably including autonomous driving systems.

Volkswagen is already laying the groundwork for its ID. sub-brand to flourish in the U.S., its Electrify America subsidiary working to make US buyers more receptive to EV ownership with a pro-electric propulsion multimedia campaign, and to install thousands of EV charging stations across the country, including both level-2 AC chargers and DC fast-charging stations. Electrify America was born out of Volkswagen’s U.S. court settlement after having been caught installing emissions “cheat devices” on diesel vehicles.

Look for the Volkswagen ID.4 electric crossover to launch in the U.S. toward the end of 2020, with the first model year being imported from Germany or China ahead of domestic production kicking off at the automaker’s Chattanooga, Tennessee site in 2022.

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