Volkswagen’s CFO Arno Antlitz said Europe’s largest automaker has “all the ingredients” for success as the US auto industry shifts to electric. Despite this, VW is seeing reluctance for its EVs in Europe and potentially in the US as well.
Volkswagen gears up for North American EV transition
In an interview with Bloomberg Television Wednesday, Antilitz explained VW has what it takes to grow in the US as the buyers transition to EVs.
Last April, Volkswagen announced its first North American EV battery cell plant in St. Thomas, Ontario. The facility will host six production blocks with up to 90 GWh volume. According to VW, that’s enough for around 1 million EVs per year.
The massive 370-acre factory is about the size of 210 football fields. VW says the entire site will cover around 850 football fields.
VW’s factory plans to begin producing sustainable unified cells in 2027. The cells will power VW Group EVs, including its new Scout brand.
Volkswagen is reviving the Scout brand into a rugged all-electric automaker. The company will build vehicles at its $2 billion facility in South Carolina.
Once production begins in 2026, VW expects to produce over 200,000 Scout EVs. Scout’s CEO, Scott Keogh, confirmed the company is on track to unveil its electric truck and SUV later this year.
After hiring former Jeep and RAM designer Chris Benjamin in May, Keogh claimed his “thumbprints are all over many of the most beloved off-road vehicles.”
Scout’s compact four-wheel vehicle was the first real competition to the popular Jeep brand in the 70’s and 80’s. Before the Ford Bronco and Chevy Blazer hit the market, Scout’s vehicles shaped many of the vehicles we see in the US today.
Despite the success, the brand’s parent company faced financial troubles, leading to a business overhaul.
Volkswagen bought the rights to Scout in 2021 after its trucking unit (Traton Group) merged with Navistar. The company confirmed it would resurrect the brand into an off-road EV maker to compete in the US’s biggest segments.
Can VW compete as the US shifts to EVs?
After delivering over 394,000 electric cars last year, up 21% from 2022, VW looks to regain momentum to compete with leaders like Tesla.
Although this is a record for Volkswagen, 21% YOY growth is far behind most rivals. Tesla set a new record, delivering nearly 1.81 million EVs last year. Volvo sold over 113,000 EVs last year. That’s up 70% compared to 2022 (66,749) and 16% of its total sales.
Volkswagen’s EVs accounted for 8.3% of its total sales last year. That’s at the lower end of its 8% to 10% guidance (already down from 11%). Antlitz said EV orders fell to 150,000 in Europe in October, 50% less than the 300,000 in 2022.
The company’s financial leader confirmed VW is seeing some reluctance in Europe and potentially in the US, too.
VW cut shifts and laid off temporary workers last year in Europe as it struggled to keep up with EV leaders like Tesla and incoming Chinese rivals like BYD.
With larger vehicles, including an electric SUV and pickup, hitting the US market, VW hopes to regain momentum.
VW cut EV prices earlier this week in Europe, hoping to compete with the surging Tesla. The company also fell behind Tesla in US market share for the first time last year.
Tesla secured 4.2% of the US auto market share last year compared to Volkswagen’s 4.1%. Despite this, VW’s ID.4 did climb four spots for the fifth best-selling EV in the US last year, behind the Mustang Mach-E, Chevy Bolt EV, Tesla, Model 3, and Tesla Model Y.
Will a rugged electric pickup and SUV help VW regain momentum as the US market shifts to EVs? That’s what the automaker is hoping for.
With plans to continue investing around a third of investment into ICE vehicles, it could set VW further behind.
While VW’s EV sales accounted for around 8% of total volume, many automakers are already achieving double-digit, or 100%, sales share.
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