Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian

Tesla Motors has been the undisputed frontrunner in the electric automobile market for some time. While other car companies have worked hard to keep pace, they’ve largely been unable to fund and produce the quality and variety offered by the groundbreaking fully-electric auto brand. That may soon change, as Volkswagen has made a big announcement about its plans to expand the brand’s fully-electric product line.

Volkswagen announced that production of the ID.4, a fully-electric compact SUV, has begun at a recently-converted auto plant expected to manufacture about 300,000 electric vehicles per year. Automotive market watchers expect the ID.4 to go head-to-head against the Tesla Model Y, that company’s fully-electric SUV.

VW’s ID.4 will become a companion vehicle to its Audi luxury brand electric SUV, the E-Tron. However, the ID.4 is expected to bridge the gap to a more mid-range consumer market, pitting it directly against the Model Y.

VW brand head Ralf Brandstätter said the company was excited to begin making the ID.4, which would give Volkswagen a place in “the world’s largest growth segment” in the automotive industry. According to Brandstätter, the ID.4 will first be built and sold in Europe and China before opening up to U.S. production in Tennessee in 2022. As a whole, Volkswagen says, with the expansion of its electric lineup, the company is on track to produce about 1.5 million electric cars in 2025.

The announcement is positive news for the international auto industry, which has faced seriously dire straits since the coronavirus pandemic exploded across the globe. Factories slowed production or shut down completely and consumer car-buying ground to a veritable halt in many places, creating a serious issue for the industry.

Retailers have tried many different methods to bring consumers back to dealerships, but manufacturers have been slower to announce new plans, given the uncertainty the industry is facing in the coming months. But, if any company has the international clout to get the shoe on the other foot, it’s VW.

If the brand emerges from the pandemic slowdown as a trend leader, it could have much larger implications and ramifications for the global automotive industry as a whole. Many companies that’ve been slowly working toward electric vehicles might ramp up their efforts in order to keep up with Tesla and VW in the marketplace. And, if more consumers see that a fully-electric vehicle is actually a reality for them, the trend line in the industry may begin to shift faster.

All this, of course, is subject to change as the pandemic continues to ebb and flow. However, the industry is welcoming good news and looking forward to more.

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Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency.