Volkswagen: ‘The Real Big Opportunity Is The United States’ 

This article is from the Chief Executive’s Manufacturing CEO Briefing. You can sign up to receive this newsletter by clicking here.

As everyone reading this knows, the great American EV gold rush is on. What you may not know: Volkswagen is rushing in to stake a very big claim. 

The company recently announced that it’s going to construct at least two new plants in North America in the coming few years, and probably a third one. South Carolina has landed VW’s commitment to build a $2-billion factory near the state capital, Columbia, to assemble vehicles that will revive the company’s Scout SUV brand. VW also plans to build its first EV-battery plant outside Europe in Canada, and maybe the first Audi plant in the United States. 

In an interview with Chief Executive, Reinhard Fischer, head of strategy for Volkswagen North America, says all of this will add to an already-vast manufacturing base in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade-agreement footprint that includes a major assembly facility for the Volkswagen brand in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and an Audi plant in Puebla, Mexico. 

About a year ago, VW announced that it planned to invest at least $7.1 billion in North America and add 25 new EVs to its car markets by 2030. That in part reflected VW leadership’s conviction that it can still do significantly better in selling vehicles on the continent than it has since it began selling cars in America, via its Beetle, in 1949. Beginning in the late ‘70s, it made cars in Pennsylvania only to shut the plant after a decade. VW opened the Tennessee plant in 2011. 

“There’s a clear desire by the Volkswagen Group to establish North America as the third leg of our stool because we have a very strong presence in China, where the market’s transformation to battery-electric vehicles has created strong competition from local companies,” Fischer says. “Then, look at Europe: We have maxed out at what we think is a reasonable market share there for VW. So, around the globe, the real big opportunity is the United States.” Read the full interview >  

— Dan Bigman, editor, Chief 

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