Volkswagen plans $23,000 Tesla rival, report says

The promised $35,000 Tesla Model 3 is still some months away from production, but Volkswagen is reportedly readying a competitor that will come in well below that number. Reuters reports that the automaker is planning a model for its ID range of electric cars priced below 20,000 euros, which is just under $23,000, citing a source within VW. The model codenamed "MEB entry," with a planned production volume of 200,000 units annually, is expected to be discussed at a Nov. 16 supervisory board meeting by the automaker, according to the source cited by Reuters. The source also indicated that another MEB platform model, codenamed "MEB Aero," will be built at a factory that currently produces the Passat.

This report comes among indications that Volkswagen is shifting to convert several more existing plants in Germany to EV production, including a Passat-producing plant in Emden and a Crafter commercial van plant in Hanover.

The debut model from the ID lineup is due in a little over a year: The first car will be the ID hatchback, which has already been previewed in concept form. This model will be produced at the VW plant in Zwickau, which is expected to build the smaller models from the ID lineup. Volkswagen has not indicated yet whether the "MEB entry" model will be a hatch or a sedan, but it could potentially replace the current e-up! two-door electric hatch offered in Europe and other markets — a $23,000 target makes this very likely.

Volkswagen aims to make electric cars as affordable and accessible as gasoline and diesel-engined vehicles. While Porsche and Audi are rolling out their first EVs at the moment, concentrating on the higher-priced segments, VW's ID range will focus on the entry-level and midrange vehicles, which may include a planned entry-priced model designed to be more affordable than almost all others currently on the market.

"Volkswagen will be building the series production models of the ID family in Saxony," the automaker said in a statement earlier this fall. "1.2 billion euros is being invested in Zwickau to become the first pure-play MEB plant and the largest competence center for e-mobility in Europe. The Gläserne Manufaktur began building the Volkswagen e-Golf1 back in April 2017. The plant is evolving into a 'Center of Future Mobility.' Customers and visitors can enjoy an interactive encounter with e-mobility and digitalization to discover more about the future of mobility."

The automaker is rapidly making plans for the wider rollout of electric models, which will also include at least one plant in the U.S. With the first production cars due on the road in a little over a year, the automaker is repositioning its facilities to support the production of several hundred thousand electric cars per year, which will still make up a fraction of all VW AG vehicles sold annually.  

"The Braunschweig plant will manufacture the battery system, the heart of the ID," Volkswagen added. "This factory with a long history already builds the batteries for the e-up!2, the e-Golf and the Passat GTE3 plug-in hybrid. Braunschweig is today the battery and packaging specialist and has extensive know-how in power electronics, battery cooling systems and software management. The plant is currently being expanded so as to be able to build up to half a million battery systems per year in future."

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