Volkswagen’s top U.S. official confirmed the German automaker is searching for a place to build a new plant that will produce a new electric vehicle aimed for the mass market with a price tag of less than $40K.
Scott Keogh, VW of America president, told reporters at the L.A. Auto Show that the company was intent on introducing a new EV in the U.S. by 2020. The vehicle would be priced between $30K and $40K, making it competitive with the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt, the current top sellers.
He also noted the company would like to build this vehicle in the U.S. and a search was underway to find a location for the new plant.
“We are 100% deep in the process of ‘We will need an electric car plant in North America,’ and we’re holding those conversations now,” Keogh told reporters in Los Angeles.
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The new EV would initially be sourced from outside the U.S., but once the plant is completed, it would become the global home for the battery electric, Keogh said. The company has an existing plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where it builds sedans and sport-utility vehicles.
Keogh said that despite the early lead that Tesla and Chevrolet have in the market, it’s definitely not to late to get into the game.
“The market timing actually is quite perfect,” he said. “You need to have this intersection of, ‘Can you get costs down enough that you can produce a car at that price point, make enough money, have the technology capabilities that this is a car that we would want to put in the marketplace, and have market acceptance?’”
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“And when all these things intersect that’s ideally when you want to throw the dart,” he added.
He didn’t reveal where this new plant may be, or what product specifically would be coming over; however, VW has displayed several concept EVs under is I.D. nameplate during the past two years. One of those are likely the choice, but Keogh declined to say if that was the case.
Volkswagen announced plans to spend $50 billion to develop is mobility services, which includes EVs and AVs, by 2023. The company is also in the midst of substantive talks with Ford Motor Co. about areas of cooperation. One of those might be pickup trucks.
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The automaker could certainly use one in the U.S. to bolster sales and displayed the VW Tanoak at the New York Auto Show in March. “It’s something we should look at it,” he said, adding it was a “great market opportunity.”