The entry-level electric car with the hot-hatch heritage seems like an obvious winner in the U.S. market. Fortunately, VW Group of America’s CEO thinks so too.
When we told you about the Volkswagen ID.GTI concept on Sunday, September 3, fresh from its unveiling at the Munich IAA auto show in Germany, the official line was that there were no confirmed plans to bring it to the U.S.
But now Car and Driver has spoken with Pablo Di Si, Volkswagen Group of America CEO, and can report that he is pushing hard to bring the electric hot hatch stateside.
“Everybody wants the car in the U.S.,” Di Si told journalists at the IAA. “It’s a concept car, but we’re working very closely with the team in Germany in terms of the design and the specs . . . I think it could be a great car for the U.S. We just need to make sure that the touch and feel is going to be what the American consumer wants, and you achieve that by working with engineering from the beginning of the project.”
There seem few reasons that such a plan couldn’t come to fruition. The production ID.GTI, which is confirmed for Europe, will sit on the MEB Entry platform, a front-wheel-drive version of Volkswagen’s existing MEB EV platform. The ID.4, which sits on the regular rear-/all-wheel-drive MEB architecture, is already being produced at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
U.S. Needs an Entry-Level EV
Di Si confirms that Volkswagen is committed to launching a less expensive EV in the U.S. below the ID.4, a role the production GTI would seem perfectly suited for. “We are the people’s brand, so we need an entry-level electric vehicle, no ifs, no buts,” Di Si said. “Whether it is going to be the ID.2 or the GTI—whatever you want to call it—we need to have one. I like the GTI particularly because it brings the heritage of the brand in a smaller package, and a hopefully smaller price.”
Which can be taken as a ringing endorsement from the boss, especially as Di Si added that his personal opinion is that the basic ID.2, which will sit below the ID.3 in Europe, will be too small and basic for U.S. buyers.
One potential sticking point, according to Volkswagen insiders, is the ID.GTI’s front-drive layout, with the key question being whether U.S. buyers would expect their junior performance EV to come with all-wheel drive. That’s something that would be very hard to deliver given the concept’s dinky dimensions and tight packaging.
But we’re definitely hoping the issues get ironed out on this one. The U.S. has long been one of the biggest markets for Volkswagen’s GTI variants, and we really don’t want to be denied this one.
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