Electric Cars

VW has plans for sub-$23,000 EV, report says

The automaker reportedly wants to convert three factories to build it.

Josh Miller/CNET

Everybody's still talking about $35,000 electric vehicles, but Volkswagen apparently has its eye on a price point well below that.

Volkswagen intends to introduce a new entry-level electric vehicle that it wants to price below 20,000 euros (about $23,000 converted), Reuters reports today, citing sources familiar with the matter. Volkswagen did not immediately return a request for comment, but the automaker declined to comment to Reuters.

This low-cost EV, which is apparently known simply as "MEB entry" for now, would have both a low starting price and a high initial production volume. Reuters' source said the estimated production volume is 200,000 cars, and that the automaker intends to convert three separate factories to build the vehicle. It's unclear which plants the source is referring to. The company will reportedly discuss the vehicle at a supervisory board meeting on Nov. 16.

Once production kicks off, if the demand is there, economies of scale could very well permit low-cost EVs that aren't complete loss leaders.

Volkswagen

MEB is the name for Volkswagen's dedicated electric platform. Consisting of a scalable "skateboard" that comprises the battery and electric motors, the MEB platform can underpin electric vehicles of all shapes and sizes. In fact, every I.D. electric vehicle VW has previewed thus far, from the I.D. Crozz crossover to the I.D. Buzz microbus, rides on that single platform. It wouldn't necessarily surprise if it could be scaled down to the subcompact segment.

That said, getting the price that low will certainly take effort. VW recently lowered the cost of the electric E-Up subcompact hatchback from 26,900 euros (about $31,000) to 22,975 euros (about $25,000), which is still well above VW's hopeful price target for this forthcoming "MEB entry" vehicle. But the E-Up is also based on a platform originally intended for traditional gas and diesel vehicles, making development and packaging more difficult than it would be on a dedicated EV platform. For comparison's sake, a gas-powered Up starts just over 10,000 euro (about $11,300).

Reuters referred to the MEB entry vehicle more than once as a "Tesla rival," but I don't think that's a valid point of comparison. Tesla still has yet to release the fabled $35,000 short-range version of its Model 3 sedan, focusing instead on margin-padding variants like the $64,000 Model 3 Performance as it gets its financial ducks in a row. The idea of Tesla quickly deploying a car that cheap at any appreciable volume doesn't seem feasible in the near term, especially given the Model Y SUV is positioned as the next vehicle to debut from the American automaker.

VW I.D. Buzz: The future is electric, and it's also a microbus.

VW I.D. Crozz: This will be the first I.D. EV to grace American shores.

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