The news of a second Volkswagen plant in the U.S. just became more interesting in the wake of a White House meeting between President Donald Trump and the heads of several European automakers.
After the meeting Herbert Diess, Volkswagen’s CEO, said as part of the growing alliance with Ford Motor Co. the automaker may use Ford plants to build cars. He added later that the company was “considering building a second car plant.”
“We are in quite advanced negotiations and dialog with Ford to really build up a global automotive alliance, which also would strengthen the American automotive industry,” he added.
Last week, VW of America President Scott Keogh said at the L.A. Auto Show the company would be building a new electric vehicle in the U.S. and would need a second plant to do so, but the location of the plant had yet to be determined. Could that “new” plant simply be an unused Ford facility? No one is saying.
(VW’s Keogh confirms plans for new U.S. plant for electric vehicle. Click Here for the story.)
“Our MOU with VW covers conversations about potential collaborations across a number of areas,” a Ford spokeswoman said in an e-mailed statement to Reuters. “It is premature to share additional details at this time.”
The automakers, who confirmed their loose alliance in mid-June, noted there are several areas they would discuss partnerships about, determining if it made sense to pair up. Ford has been looking to pare back its employee counts and it has closed some of its production facilities in the process, but not yet has anyone said a Ford plant is in the running for VW’s new EV.
VW has an assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Keogh as well as Diess said the company is in “quite advanced negotiations in Tennessee but there might be other options as well.”
(Click Here for more about VW’s CEO saying automaker is ready to build 50 million EVs.)
Diess said VW planned to talk more about the Ford alliance in January, most likely at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
“We need additional capacity here in the United States, we need an additional car plant for VW and Audi combined,” Diess told reporters in Washington.
What form the “alliance” isn’t clear, but Diess did rule out taking an equity stake in Ford as part of the deal, adding the idea was to help strengthen weaknesses the other automaker has, not further blur the lines of ownership.
(To see more about Ford’s discussions with Volkswagen, Click Here.)
There is one complicating factor in all of this: the UAW. Volkswagen’s relationship with the union is less than spectacular after the union tried and failed to unionize VW’s Chattanooga plant. Using a former or current Ford plant would likely mean some type of interaction with the UAW to get it done.