Volkswagen wants to build electric pickups in the US
That Center for Automotive Research is an independent non-profit organization formed as part of the University of Michigan. Its mission is to facilitate dialogue between automotive industry groups and government agencies. Last week, during a panel discussion at the Management Briefing Seminar focused on the relationship between the automotive industry and its suppliers, Inga von Seelen, Senior Vice President of Purchasing at Volkswagen of America, told those present that her company has locations in the US for an evaluation assembly plant to build electric pickups.
“We have a lot of growth potential, so we are looking for locations for a new pickup and battery plant. It would be an electric pickup. Overall, I still see growth in the market. We have huge potential in the US with our Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen brands,” she said, according to the industry news source Ward’s car.
Souls did not provide any further information on when their company could decide on a location. She also gave no hints as to what type of electric pickup truck the company has in mind. Will it be the size of a Ford F-150 Lightning, a Chevrolet Silverado EV, or a Ram 1500 EV? Or will it be more of a “lifestyle” vehicle like the Rivian R1T, Honda Ridgeline or Toyota Tacoma?
Volkswagen has a mid-size pickup truck called the Amarok that it sells in many world markets other than North America. It is rumored to be working with Ford to develop a new mid-size pickup truck similar to the newly released Maverick. And then there’s the new Scout division, about which little is known except for a teaser graphic released a few months ago showing two vehicles –– a compact SUV and a short-bed pickup. Could this new Volkswagen pickup factory be where Scout-branded vehicles are made? When we know more, you will know more.
Building vehicles is not easy
The panel discussion at which Van Seelen made her comments was titled: “Supplier Relationships: Success Amidst Risk and Scarcity.She said that like all automakers today, Volkswagen is struggling with issues such as labor, inflation, access to critical materials and other logistical issues.
“A clear challenge is the raw material,” added von Seelen. “Energy costs are also an issue and the Volkswagen Group is trying to stay ahead of the myriad financial challenges facing Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers with more transparency and better communication.”
Pat D’Eramo, CEO of Martinrea International, told the group: “We are stampers (of chassis, bodywork and other metal components) and welders. It was a very difficult two or three years. Every week we have a bankrupt Tier 2 or Tier 3 supplier in Europe. Everyone recognizes that EV volumes are at risk. We can’t invest in every electric vehicle out there. You have to decide which ones you think will be winners.”
Suppliers would not necessarily benefit from an electric vehicle sales boom, which would strain capacity and exacerbate a tight labor market. A period of stable schedules and moderate growth would benefit everyone, he said. Such a period of stability and moderate growth may not be in sight with the passage of the inflation-mitigating law that could boost demand for electric cars and trucks.
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