TennesseEV: VW announces electric car plans for Chattanooga plant

Tell the Tennessee Valley Authority to turn up the power.

Volkswagen unveiled the latest version of its Chattanooga-built Passat sedan at the Detroit Auto Show on Monday, but it’s the car that will be built alongside it at the plant that’s generating the most buzz.

The automaker confirmed plans to use the Tennessee location to manufacture an upcoming electric SUV.


Details on the model were not revealed, but VW said it would be based on the I.D. Buzz Cross Concept that debuted at last year’s show. The compact SUV features all-wheel-drive and a projected range of over 300 miles per charge.

It’s scheduled to go on sale in 2020 and will be followed by a minivan built on the same platform in 2022 that is inspired by the classic VW Microbus.

VW has been in discussions with Ford about the possibility of using some of its manufacturing capacity in the U.S. to support its electric vehicle push, but no announcements on that topic were made. A conference call is scheduled for Tuesday with the two brand's CEOs to discuss the status of a proposed alliance.

As far as the new Passat is concerned, it’s a much more conventional car with a four-cylinder turbocharged engine and front-wheel-drive, although the new model gets plenty of the latest active safety technology, including automatic emergency brakes, lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control, not to mention a rocking Fender audio system.

The Passat goes on sale this summer.