VW Turning to America for Electric Shift

Volkswagen’s well recorded shift away from diesel engines toward electric ones might mark more than just a shift in propulsion. According to Burkhard Huhnke, senior vice president of e-mobility for the VW Group, the company is looking for lots of input from America.

The Atlas was an early step in VW’s quest to woo American buyers, a group with whom the company has historically had trouble. Now, though, it looks like its electric vehicles will be heavily influenced by American needs, according to a report from the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

“We have a very strong team here working with departments across the country to get a good understanding of the requirements — the adjustments to the customer,” Huhnke told the Free Times Press.

Huhnke, for instance, has been working from California recently, getting the connectivity side of ID development going, while work is being done in Detroit to find suppliers. Chattanooga, meanwhile, where VW’s sole American assembly plant is located, is helping  to determine market requirements, says Huhnke.

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Since the Type 1 Beetle was phased out, VW has had trouble attracting American buyers. Its first attempt at selling American-built Golfs ended poorly when the car was criticized for its un-German softness and shoddy build quality. That eventually led to the shut down of the Westmoreland, Pennsylvania assembly plant.

That said, though, if Volkswagen wants sell more vehicles in America, it will have to embrace the nation’s tastes. Keeping the country in mind during the development phase of its new image-changing electric family of vehicles can only help.

Unfortunately, at this point it’s too early to say whether or not all of this attention will lead to MEB (VW’s electric platform) production in Chattanooga, but VW has committed to building electric vehicles in North America.

[source: Chattanooga Free Times Press]