The Center for Automotive Research began as a unit of the University of Michigan before becoming an independent non-profit. Its goal is to foster communication between government organizations and organizations in the car sector. Inga Von Seelen, senior vice president for purchasing at Volkswagen of America, revealed to those in attendance last week at a Management Briefing Seminar panel discussion that was centered on the relationships between the auto industry and its suppliers that her company is looking at locations in the US for an assembly plant to build electric pickup trucks.
We are searching for locations for a new pickup truck and battery manufacturing facility because we have significant expansion potential. An electric pickup truck would be involved. Overall, I continue to see market expansion. According to business news site Wards Auto , we have a lot of promise in the US with our brands Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen.
When her business might choose a location was not further discussed by Von Seelen. She also didn’t give any hints as to the kind of electric pickup the company is planning. Will it be the same size as a Ram 1500 EV, Chevrolet Silverado EV, or a Ford F-150 Lightning? Or will it be more of a lifestyle car, similar to the Toyota Tacoma, Honda Ridgeline, or Rivian R1T?
Outside of North America, Volkswagen does sell a midsize pickup truck named the Amarok in many other international markets. It is said to be working with Ford to create a new midsize pickup truck that is comparable to the recently debuted Maverick. Then there is the brand-new Scout division, which is largely unknown outside a teaser image that was revealed a few months ago and showed two vehicles: a small SUV and a pickup truck with a short bed. Could vehicles bearing the Scout brand be produced at the new Volkswagen pickup truck factory? You’ll learn more once we know more.
Making vehicles is difficult. Supplier Relations: Finding Success Amid Risks and Scarcity was the title of the panel discussion where Van Seelen spoke. According to her, Volkswagen, like all other automakers today, is battling problems with labor, inflation, access to essential supplies, and other logistical concerns.
Raw materials present a clear obstacle, Von Seelen continued. The Volkswagen Group is attempting to stay ahead of the numerous financial issues facing Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 suppliers with more transparency and stronger communication. The cost of electricity is also a problem.
Martinrea International’s CEO, Pat DEramo, said to the group:
We are a welder and a stamper (of chassis, bodies, and other metal components). The past two or three years have been really challenging. We experience a failed Tier 2 or Tier 3 supplier in Europe every week. Everyone is aware that EV volumes are under danger. We are unable to finance every EV on the market. You must choose the ones you believe will prevail.
A surge in EV sales that would strain capacity and worsen a tight labor market would not necessarily be advantageous for suppliers. Everyone would gain from a period of regular schedules and moderate growth, he said. Such a period of stability and modest development may not be possible after the Inflation Reduction Act was passed, which may increase demand for electric cars and trucks.
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