The U.S. rollout of the Volkswagen ID4 has been delayed from late December until late in the first quarter of 2021, in part to shift output of the electric compact crossover to markets in Europe, where the company is facing large fines for not hitting emissions targets, Automotive News has learned.
Originally, VW planned to begin delivering at least a few ID4 models in California and other zero-emissions vehicle states before the end of the year, with a 50-state launch across its network of 650 U.S. dealerships planned for the first half of 2021. It will now launch the ID4 across the U.S., instead of just ZEV states, with initial deliveries slated for March, according to sources familiar with the plan.
A VW spokesman on Friday confirmed the amended timeline, saying in a statement to Automotive News: "We are executing our plan. We will still have a few hundred vehicles for customer events and drive programs early next year, with the 50-state retail launch starting in March, timed to the spring selling season. We want this launch to have the biggest impact possible with a steady cadence once ID.4 starts to arrive at dealerships."
Top VW executives announced Oct. 29 that the company expects to be fined in Europe this year for failing to achieve its carbon dioxide reduction target for its new-car fleet. The ID4 — a Tiguan-sized crossover built on the automaker's modular electric platform — is currently produced for Europe and North America in Zwickau, Germany, alongside the Golf-sized ID3 hatchback EV that is not destined for the U.S.
European sales of the ID3 were delayed this year by nagging software issues. The delay held up the planned start of production of the ID4 for several weeks.
By prioritizing sales of the two EVs in Europe through the end of the year, VW can lower the fines it expects to incur. As of last month, a second plant, in Shanghai, was producing ID4 variants for sale in the Chinese market.
VW of America accepted thousands of $100 refundable deposits when it introduced the ID4 in September, and dealers have begun contacting consumers to finalize their orders before delivery.
Volkswagen has a lot riding on the success of the ID4. All but a small handful of its U.S. dealers have signed up to sell the vehicle, and the company believes it can sell more than 20,000 of the German-built EVs in the U.S. next year, thanks in part to a $379/month lease option and a promise of free charging. The sticker price is $41,190, including shipping; that excludes any federal and state incentives.
U.S. production of the ID4 is scheduled to begin in 2022 after an $800 million expansion of VW's plant in Chattanooga is completed. The plant currently builds the three-row Atlas and two-row Atlas Cross Sport crossovers, along with the Passat sedan.
VW brand global CEO Ralf Brandstätter said this month that production of the slow-selling Passat would end at an unspecified date. The midsize sedan's sunsetting was expected. In 2018, Volkswagen opted to freshen the aging four-door in North America instead of redesigning it onto the modular MQB platform, as it did elsewhere in the world.