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President Joe Biden is looking to buy hundreds of thousands of American-made electric cars — and Europe’s largest automaker thinks it can help.
Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess made a sales pitch to Biden after the commander in chief pledged to replace the federal government’s gas-guzzling vehicles with electric cars.
“Good decision and good timing, @VWGroup is ready to deliver!” Diess said on Twitter Tuesday morning. “We will start our e-offensive in the US.”
Diess added that Volkswagen plans to start making its ID.4 electric SUV in Chattanooga, Tennessee — where it has a 3.4 million-square-foot factory — by 2022.
Diess was responding to Biden’s Monday afternoon speech outlining his plans to bolster American manufacturing, including an executive order he signed tightening rules that require federal agencies to buy products and materials from US-based companies whenever possible.
Biden said his administration would replace every vehicle in the federal fleet “with clean electric vehicles, made right here in America, by American workers,” an effort that he said would create “a million autoworker jobs in clean energy.”
That would be a massive effort — federal agencies and the military owned and leased about 645,000 vehicles as of July 2020, according to the General Services Administration. Only about 3,200 of those vehicles were electric, though roughly 27,000 of them were gasoline or diesel hybrids.
Electric vehicles are a growing part of Volkswagen’s business. The German company’s Passenger Cars division said it delivered more than 212,000 of them last year, 158 percent more than in 2019.
But Volkswagen will likely have to compete with established American automakers for the feds’ electric-car orders. Market leader Tesla produces its popular cars in northern California, and General Motors and Ford are working to expand their electric-vehicle offerings.
The White House did not immediately provide comment on Diess’ pitch Tuesday morning.
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