Plans To Build EVs in North America in 2021
Volkswagen recently revealed a new strategy to overcome its dieselgate woes: discontinue sales of diesel cars in the U.S and start production of battery electric vehicles in North America in 2021.
The diesel news was first reported by European business daily Handelsblat, and was followed by a VW press release stating that the German automaker would shift its focus to EVs, including a production facility in North America.
Volkswagen hasn’t offered diesels in the U.S. for more than a year now, and it looks like they may never come back.
“We are working under the assumption that we will no longer offer diesel vehicles in the United States,” Volkswagen Passenger Cars Chief Herbert Diess told Handelsblatt. “The reason is the legal framework.”
This follows comments at November (2016)’s Los Angeles auto show by Hinrich Woebcken, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, when he told reporters he did not believe diesel would ever “come back in the same magnitude as we’ve seen it up to now” in the U.S. market.
“Emissions standards in following years are getting tougher and tougher,” Woebcken said. “Why don’t you put the money and investments … to comply with these standards, why don’t you put the money on the spot where the future is?” he asked, speaking of VW’s new focus on electric vehicles.
Big Bet on EVs
Volkswagen plans to bet big on electric vehicles as part of a multi-stage program to turn around declining sales.
The Volkswagen Group said in the press release that by 2025 it plans to sell a million electric vehicles worldwide each year.
As part of its plan to boost its electric sales in the U.S., VW’s “Electrify America” strategy includes expanding EV production to North America by 2021.
This includes “considerable investments in electric infrastructure” in North America and “local production” of electric vehicles there starting in 2021, Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess said in the press statement.
“Over the next few years, Volkswagen will change radically. Very few things will stay as they are,” Diess said. “The electric car will become the strategic core of the VW brand.”
Ed. Footnote: Since this article was written, VW has moved to settle its lawsuit over its 3.0L diesel engines and has announced a “fix” for some of the 2.0L engines in the earlier lawsuit. Privately, Volkswagen officials have also conceded that the “come back in the same magnitude” statement clearly left room for the return of the fuel efficient diesel in models where they make the most sense, such as large SUVs and sedans.
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