Volkswagen of America head Scott Keough gave a press briefing recently. CarBuzz was there and reports that pre-production prototypes of the ID.4 are rolling off the assembly line in Chattanooga, with volume production scheduled to begin in September (or October — we shall see). Keogh said the US-built cars will be almost the same as the German built models. “About 96 percent of it is identical,” he said. “The core mechanical bits are still there but we’ll be switching from the LG-supplied battery to one from SKI that will be manufactured in Georgia. The cell chemistry is slightly different but packaging is exactly the same.”
There will be “a slightly different center console design that’s more American style,” Keogh said, adding that minor changes are very common from market to another. For example, the Chinese-built ID.4 has a few alterations tailored to that country’s consumer tastes. At the moment, the base price of the ID.4 is $39,995 and Keough said that price”will hold” for US-built cars.
Then he added this interesting bit of news. A less expensive version of the ID.4 is coming and will be priced at around $35,000. After the available federal tax credit, that means the entry level car could have a net cost of less than $28,000 — about the price for a typical used car in America today. For those waiting for prices of electric cars to go down, this is welcome news. We can presume the price decrease means a somewhat smaller battery and less range, but that is just speculation at this point.
All along, we assumed the ID.Buzz would be built in Chattanooga alongside the ID.4 (and ID.5?), but Keough says no. He confirmed that the official reveal date of the production vehicle is March 9, but said there is simply no business case for manufacturing the car in America. What? The most anticipated new vehicle from Volkwagen since the New Beetle, the car that Herbert Diess is over the moon about, can’t find enough US buyers to justify making it locally? That seems a stretch. America is what made the original VW Microbus the iconic classic it was. How could this be?
In the final analysis, it makes little difference where the car is made. So far as we know, manufacturing the ID.Buzz will take place exclusively at Volkswagen’s light truck and commercial vehicle factory in Hanover. Reservations for US customers — who will get only the 3-row version, not the 2-row model — are supposed to open later this year, which is pretty vague for such a highly anticipated model. In any event, the first ID.Buzz cars are not expected to be delivered in North America until some time in 2023.
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