VW Sells Its 500,000th EV a Year Ahead of Schedule

Despite the car industry’s roughest years in recent memory, Volkswagen has sold half a million EVs in short order.

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VW Sells Its 500,000th EV a Year Ahead of Schedule © VW Sells Its 500,000th EV a Year Ahead of Schedule

Volkswagen says it has sold the 500,000th electric vehicle in its ID model lineup, hitting a major milestone way sooner than expected. Its production ramp has been so steep, in fact, that it has far outstripped the growth rates of the companies that beat it to the mark—like Tesla.

VW announced Monday that it reached the half-million mark a year earlier than anticipated, having only delivered the first ID.3 (its first mass-market EV) in October 2020. It claims to have done so despite the constraints of parts supply chains, and without exhausting demand. VW says it still has some 135,000 orders in its books, which have been full for the year since May.

VW infographic on ID family sales. VW

VW will sustain demand for its EVs by tapping into a wide variety of segments, with plans for 10 new battery-powered models by 2026 ranging from a sub-€25,000 model to the flagship Aero B. While not all will be major volume-sellers, the likes of the ID Buzz and a possible electric pickup truck stand to sustain niche sales over a longer period. By 2030, VW intends for EVs to account for more than 70 percent of its Europe sales volume, and at least half of its sales in China and the United States.

Just how steep VW's EV production ramp has been is best contextualized by the pace of the rivals who hit the half-million mark before it. Nissan, which introduced the Leaf in 2010, took a decade to hit 500,000 EV sales, which it did in 2020. Tesla's purpose-built EVs took it the distance in a shorter span of six years according to InsideEVs data cited by Money Transfers, but it did so by incinerating cash to keep the lights on. That has become the accepted trajectory for EV startups, which isn't as sustainable in times of economic downturn as highlighted by Reuters.

2023 VW ID.4. VW

But VW doesn't have that hole to climb out of, as in 2020, a Swiss investment bank forecasted VW's EVs would be profitable as soon as 2022 according to Forbes. In May, then-CEO Herbert Diess predicted VW's EVs would equal the profitability of its ICE models on the sooner end of a two- to three-year window per Reuters. That could put VW on track for profitable EVs well ahead of other legacy players, like General Motors, which doesn't anticipate breaking even until 2025.

That goes without considering the potential of its adventure EV brand Scout, which may muscle in on the space of promising player Rivian. But that'll be small peanuts compared to taking the EV sales crown from Tesla, which VW aims to do by 2025. Judging by VW's meteoric rise so far, that may not be as far-fetched as it once sounded.

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