As with VW’s current range, ID models in China will be offered through the firm’s Beijing-based import business and its three joint ventures: the long-established FAW-Volkswagen and SAIC-Volkswagen, and the new JAC-Volkswagen.
All three are building plants purely to make MEB-platformed cars, with the FAW and SAIC factories due to open next year, each with capacity for 300,000 cars annually.
“That is not everything we will do capacity-wise, but it will allow us to serve the market as it is growing towards really big numbers,” said Wöllenstein.
FAW-VW and SAIC-VW will each launch its own ID model next year, likely similar-sized cars with different external styling, as VW has done with its recent SUV range.
Wöllenstein likened the joint-venture partners to “a big family with two kids. You don’t always have to dress them the same, but you can’t give one double the toys of the other without creating jealousy.”
Wöllenstein said the first ID models in China will be SUV-based. That’s likely to mean local-market versions of the ID 4 SUV (launched in concept form as the ID Crozz) previewed at the Frankfurt show, or the larger ID Roomzz.
“We are going to introduce the ID 3 in China with local production, but it will not be the first one,” said Wöllenstein. “The first models will be more in line with what Chinese customers love, which is SUVs and sedans. We will likely start with an SUV-type car before we come in with sedan models and then ID 3.”
According to reports in China, SAIC-VW is working on three MEB models, including local versions of the Roomzz and one based on the Skoda Vision iV concept.
Although the Chinese market represents a huge opportunity for VW – and other global car firms – it also presents unique challenges. The incentives the Chinese government has offered for producing electric cars has led to a huge EV market, with hundreds of start-up companies competing with large Chinese firms that already have proven products on sale.
Wöllenstein likened the push towards EVs in China as “a bit of a gold rush” but noted that the market includes “some very serious competitors with rich experience, such as BYD, which produces more electrified cars than anyone else”.