Picture: LIESA JOHANNSSEN-KOPPITZ/BLOOMBERG
Picture: LIESA JOHANNSSEN-KOPPITZ/BLOOMBERG

Volkswagen is preparing to make and sell considerably more electric vehicles in North America after US President Joe Biden set out a $174bn plan to accelerate the move to electric cars.

The US administration has created a new proposition for EVs in the market, VW brand development chief Thomas Ulbrich told reporters in Munich.

VW is drafting plans “to realign to this in a massive way”, Ulbrich said. A final decision is set for later this year during the manufacturer’s annual investment review, and the updated US electric-car strategy is “being worked out”, he said.

Europe’s largest automaker is in the midst of the most aggressive push into EVs by a traditional carmaker, with plans to launch about 70 battery-powered models by the end of the decade. Peers from Toyota to Ford have followed suit in recent months, stepping up their challenge to Tesla. On Wednesday, General Motors raised its planned investment in future technology for the second time in eight months to $35bn.

VW plans to churn out vehicles based on its dedicated electric-car platform at eight factories worldwide by 2022, with Europe and China accounting for the biggest chunk of production. So far, the only model to be build in North America from next year is the ID.4 compact SUV at VW’s sole US factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The ID.4 spearheads the global rollout of VW-branded electric cars after last year’s bumpy introduction of the ID.3 hatchback, which primarily targets European customers. VW is adding the ID.5 crossover later this year and the seven-seat ID.6 in China. Plans for a subcompact EV below the ID.3 priced at less than €25,000 have been accelerated by two years to 2025.

Andreas Krueger, VW’s head of electric mobility, said the company plans to make a mid-sized station wagon, code-named AeroB, in 2024 to broaden its line-up further. VW’s electric-car architecture for mass-market vehicles will be improved for battery ranges of as much as 700km and quicker charging, he said. This improvements will include bidirectional charging, allowing the vehicle battery to serve as power storage and feed energy into the grid.

Besides growing the ID line-up, VW is working on a new car — code-named Trinity — to help narrow the gap to Tesla on software. Due to be launched in 2026, the vehicle will be made in a highly-automated factory that will pit VW’s biggest plant in Wolfsburg against Tesla’s first European site under construction near Berlin. It will offer automated driving and various digital features.

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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