Volkswagen will begin taking refundable deposits for its first long-range EV targeting the U.S. market next month, with the first ID.4 SUVs scheduled to be delivered before year-end, the automaker has confirmed.
The German automaker has designed a new web portal that will allow potential customers to do pretty much everything from researching the ID.4 to choosing options, lining up financing and, depending upon state regulations, complete the purchase process. But those who prefer a more traditional buying experience will still be able to go into one of the automaker’s U.S. showrooms.
“We want to engage the customer and work with them flexibly in the way that they want,” said Duncan Movassahi, executive vice president of VW Sales and Marketing.
Automakers, in general, have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing the options for motorists to shop online. That’s been particularly true when it comes to new battery-cars which are typically being offered with fewer options than conventional, gas-powered models making it easier for potentially buyers to figure out what they want.
“With COVID, our dealers have seen very quickly that customers are demanding a new way of working and a new way of interacting with the brand and the business,” said Movassaghi. “What we as a brand have looked to do – and I think that COVID has very much accelerated this for all of us – is to bring a way of selling to our customers that is in line with how they are operating in the rest of their lives.”
For its part, VW will have extensive, curated material available for those who want to learn about the new ID.4 and, then, if they’re interested, they can put down a fully refundable $100 reservation fee. That will hold their place in line as initial production will only slowly ramp up at VW’s now all-electric assembly plant in Zwickau, Germany. Relatively few U.S. buyers will be able to take delivery of a new ID.4 in 2020.
As product becomes available, reservation holders will be asked if they then want to complete the order process, choosing from a limited selection of colors and options. That will require another $400 deposit which would still be refundable if the final order is not completed.
From the start, a customer will be asked to choose the dealer they want to work with, the retailer getting access to their online record. But it will be up to the shopper to decide how much they want to work with the dealer. They could come in, work with a salesperson, go for a test drive or, at minimum, simply connect to sign the final papers and take delivery.
So far, VW says 99% of its U.S. dealers plan to handle sales of the ID.4 which went into production at the Zwickau plant earlier this month. Production will be expanded to include a factory in China in the coming months and then, in 2022, VW also will start building the electric SUV at its plant in Chattanooga which is now in the midst of a $1 billion expansion.
Based on the ID Crozz concept, the ID.4 is actually Volkswagen’s second long-range battery-electric vehicle. The first, the ID.3 hatchback, will not come to the U.S. market, however.
VW has yet to reveal some of the basic details about the ID.4, starting with pricing. Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keogh suggested last autumn that he’s looking at something starting in the low to mid-$30,000 range. That’s before a $7,500 federal tax credit. And that could give VW a leg up on Tesla which saw its own federal incentives phase out last year and vanish entirely Jan. 1, 2020.
All told, Germany’s Volkswagen Group plans to have as many as 50 different BEVs in production by mid-decade though, as with the ID.3, not all of them will come to the U.S. And they will be marketed through all of the carmaker’s various brands. It already has launched several models in the U.S., including the Audi e-tron and the Porsche Taycan.
The majority of the planned offerings, including the ID.4, will be based on the new MEB modular architecture. The skateboard-style platform will allow for a variety of vehicles sizes and body styles, battery pack sizes and powertrain configurations, including front, rear and all-wheel-drive.