The Volkswagen Long Read

Hello and welcome to your daily ChargeSmart blog! Today, we'll be taking a look at a lot of big news from Volkswagen. Don't worry, they're not cheating again.

Ever since the dieselgate scandal hit headlines around the world a few years ago and VW became infamous for being a bit dodgy. Their new CEO has made it a point to forge a new path for VW going forward, an electric path which the company hope is a step towards recovering their brand image. The fact that VW actually had to manipulate their cars to pass the emission tests meant that diesels were no longer feasible if they couldn’t pass the test. That scandal has forced Volkswagen to wake up and think differently, to think electric! The VW boffins have been hard at work recently trying to clean up their act. Let's take a look at what they've been working on.

Above: The cars to be built at the Tennessee plant. From left: ID3, ID CROZZ and ID BUZZ

The refurbished Tennessee plant

The Tennessee plant extension is solely dedicated to the production of Volkswagen’s EVs in North America. The group have spent more than $800 million on this particular plant. VW currently have a plant there anyway which produces the Passat and the Atlas SUV. Getting the plant up to scratch for EV productions meant a few additions were needed. These came in the form of a 52,000 square meter addition to the body shop along with an 18,000 square meter sub-factory for the purpose of building batteries. VW will keep making their combustion engine cars alongside their EVs at the Tennessee factory. Volkswagen are approaching this program with the idea of EVs being the future and the CEO of the American branch of the company said, “VW will build EVs for the millions, not just for the millionaires”. Good stuff indeed. This Tennessee plant will join a host of other new Volkswagen EV factories around the world, the first of which was in Zwickau in Germany. VW will also be adding several other German based plants for their EVs along with two more in China. All of this will help Volkswagen achieve their now increased goals of producing 70 new EV models by 2028 and selling 22 million EVs across all brands by the same year.

Above: A demo of VW's future

New developments with the ID3

In other VW news, the worldwide CEO came out and said that their EV hatch- the ID3 is 40% cheaper to build than the e-Golf. The company have already started production of the car at their state-of-the-art Zwickau plant. The company credits the reduced manufacturing cost to the fact that they now have factories dedicated to the manufacture of batteries and EVs. Whereas the e-Golf was simply a ‘conversion’ of a petrol model into something with batteries and an electric powertrain. Even though VW sell a lot of Golfs per year, the e-Golf didn’t see anywhere near as much demand as its petrol and diesel siblings. While VW’s new ID series of EVs are designed and manufactured with batteries and electric powertrains only. Another one of VW’s aggressive new targets is the fact they want to make an electric car that sells for around $22,500 by 2023.

Let’s talk about the ID line of cars now. The affordable hatch is called the ID3 and will be around the same price as some of the smaller hatches on the market from other European companies. Its range can’t compete with the likes of the Tesla Model 3 but it is a step up from the Nissan Leaf.

Above: The ID3 in launch colours

There’s another thing that we love about the ID3, it doesn’t look like a spaceship. I mean, what is with the idea that EVs have to look like something out of a Spielberg movie. Most people just want ‘normal’ cars, something to take them from A to B and the ID3 is exactly that. It looks great but it’s not outlandish, it gives people the option to have an affordable EV that is also practical and looks like a car! Then there’s the ID CROZZ aka the ID4 which is an EV crossover to be priced around $40,000. That will be the first of VW’s EVs to be sold in the US. The ID 4 will come with an 83kWhr battery with a range of around 500 kilometres. The CROZZ will be joined by VW’s electric van, the BUZZ and eventually by the stunning looking Space VIZZION wagon. All of this begs the question as to whether other companies in the EV space will be able to survive this onslaught of Volkswagens. Remember that we’ve only seen concepts of a few ID cars that will be sold over the next couple of years but VW have a total of 70 EVs in the pipeline for the next 10 years. And while Tesla has been the one dominating the EV market so far, do you reckon Volkswagen will very quickly take the crown from the American company. Another thing that works in favour is their car building expertise, they are not some 21st century tech-startup. They’ve been making cars since the 30s and they’ve become reputable for their build quality. That’s something that Tesla can’t compete with.

Above: The VW Golf GTI TCR series is dead.

Lastly, to wrap up our mega special on Volkswagen. They revealed some huge news recently. VW made a surprise announcement last week when they said they will stopping participation in all combustion motorsport activities. That means that production of their Golf GTI TCR car will also be halted. It’s another move from the company that is looking to remedy their brand image after the dieselgate scandal and forge a new path into the electric future. Volkswagen Motorsport’s efforts will instead be diverted towards improving the Modular Electric Drive Kit or MEB for short which is essentially the platform that will be shared by their upcoming range of ID cars. They’ve proved that they can build a fast EV through their ID.R which has set records at famous tracks like Pikes Peak, Goodwood and of course, the Nurburgring. It’s a move from the company to reaffirm the brand’s large group of enthusiasts that they haven’t been forgotten and future VWs will still be fun to drive and own. Their Golf GTI TCR touring sports series will end later this month. VW have also pulled their sponsorship of Sebastian Loeb’s World Touring Car Cup team as well since they won’t be providing a car for the team. However, the Polo GTI R5 which is used in rally racing will still be produced for customer owned teams. While this is some major news, fear not VW enthusiasts! Despite this move, Volkswagen will still be producing parts for their Polo GTI R5 rally car and their Golf GTI TCR touring cars but they won’t be entering any of the aforementioned racing series via the factory teams.

Thanks for reading! We'll see you next time with more news from the EV world.

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