VW considers manufacturing small electric SUV in North America
Volkswagen wants to produce another electric model in North America and is considering the Canadian province of Ontario as the future home for a battery cell plant. According to the report, it is not yet clear in which plant the E-SUV below the ID.4 will be built.
As the German publication Handelsblatt has learned from company circles, VW decided last week to produce another electric model in North America. This will be a compact SUV smaller than the ID.4, according to the report. Production is expected to start in the middle of the decade and will apparently be built either at the US plant in Chattanooga or in Puebla, Mexico, like the ID.4. A VW spokesperson confirmed such plans in response to a question from the Handelsblatt, but declined to comment on details.
The article does not mention which platform the small electric SUV will be based on. However, anything other than the revised MEB+ would be a surprise. This, in turn, could speak in favour of Chattanooga as the location, since an MEB-compatible production facility for the ID.4 is already in operation there.
Moreover, the US plant is much closer to Canada, which could be important for the supply chain: As the Handelsblatt further writes, VW’s battery subsidiary PowerCo is said to have taken a step forward in its search for a location for the first battery cell factory in Canada, which started in December 2022, and is considering the province of Ontario as a possible site. The business newspaper refers to entries in the lobby register of the Canadian province.
There are five entries listed for the VW Group from January 2023, for example from a real estate consultancy and two law firms. But VE CEO Oliver Blume is also listed as a lobbyist because he apparently sought exchanges with Canadian ministries on the matter. The purpose is literally the “investigation of a possible production site” in Ontario and there is also an offer from the government there “to support the project through investments and other incentive contributions”.
However, the Handelsblatt itself admits that the documents are “not yet proof” that Volkswagen will build its first gigafactory in North America in Ontario. According to a Volkswagen spokesperson, no final decision has yet been made.
Ontario would be a logical location for a PowerCo cell factory: the battery material partner Umicore is planning its first factory in North America for the series production of cathode and precursor materials for electric car batteries in the Canadian province. Moreover, in August 2022, the then VW CEO Herbert Diess had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Canadian government on the battery supply chain and raw material hedging.