While shifting to 100% battery-electric vehicles, Volkswagen Group of America is also becoming a more self-sufficient North American entity, responsible for more of its own R&D, software development, and with more influence on products tailored to the market, says Scott Keogh, president and CEO.
“It allows us to be faster, it allows us to make decisions for the market,” Keogh says in a press briefing on Monday.
Parent Volkswagen Group also announces its commitment to invest $7.1 billion over the next five years in the North American Region, defined as the US, Canada and Mexico, to build up battery production, expand its product portfolio of BEVs and add to its regional research and engineering capability.
In the near term, the VW brand is rolling out the US-built ID.4 electric SUV in short order – Keogh says pre-production models are already coming off the assembly line in Chattanooga, TN – followed by the imported ID.Buzz electric microbuses in 2024, and new electric SUVs starting in 2026.
In the medium to long term, the VW Group says it will add a total of more than 25 new BEVs for all its brands combined, by 2030. By that time, the group says it expects 55% of US sales to be BEVs. Beyond 2030, the company says it will start phasing out internal-combustion engines entirely.
The company is vague about the timing, but with all the new product coming, its goal is to exceed US sales of 800,000 units. US sales for the VW brand were 375,030 in 2021, up 15.1% vs. a year ago. US Audi sales were 196,038 in 2021, up 5%. Volkswagen Group of America is based in Herndon, VA.
The VW brand can top US sales of 500,000 units “quite quickly,” Keogh (left) predicts. “We want to grow. We’re capable of growing. I think the demand is there. For the first time, we have all the products, and the demand.”
Starting in 2017, VW shifted to a US lineup that’s heavy on SUVs and crossovers, and light on passenger cars, instead of the other way around.
In the future, assuming it achieves more than double its present sales, VW Group of America would have more clout to influence the “top hats” – the body styles that would go on top of VW’s global vehicle platforms, the MEB and the future SSP .
How about a pickup truck? In answer to that question, Keogh doesn’t rule it out. “Controlling our own destiny in the region will allow us to do things like this,” he says. Naturally, he says “the math would still have to work” to justify building a product with limited appeal outside North America. “A pickup or whatever it might be.”