Volkswagen’s ID.4 Plant In Tennessee Seeks To Unionize With The UAW

By automotive-mag.com 10 Min Read

Last year, non-unionized auto industry workers watched in awe watched in awe as a newly militant United Auto Workers scored massive gains with Detroit’s Big Three, including a strike. That was a great marketing tool for the UAW as it seeks to reverse years of losses to its membership, and now, Volkswagen’s U.S. factory may be next to get on the Fain Train.

Welcome to Critical Materials, your daily roundup for all things EV and automotive tech. Today, we talk about VW workers’ efforts to unionize at its Tennessee ID.4 plant, changes to how the U.S. calculates EV range, and Blink’s continued efforts to future proof its charging infrastructure.

30%: Volkswagen Workers at Tennessee ID.4 Plant Look to Unionize

After failing to gather support from employees in 2014 and 2019, VW’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant may just go union this time. And that would mean the only “foreign” automaker currently producing EVs in America—the Volkswagen ID.4—would end up a UAW plant 

The National Labor Relations Board has received petitions from more than 4,300 of the plant’s 5,500 workers looking to be represented by the United Auto Workers union, an effort that could affect Volkswagen’s most important EV on American roads today.

The ID.4 moved production from Volkswagen’s Zwickau-Mosel Plant in Germany to Chattanooga last year as the U.S. began the shift in what qualified vehicles for the $7,500 EV tax credit. This shift in domestic manufacturing has signaled an uptick in jobs, but potentially at the cost of replacing workers who currently build legacy powertrains.

Here’s what the UAW has said about it previously:

In the next few years, the electric vehicle battery industry is slated to add tens of thousands of jobs across the country, and new standards are being set as the industry comes online. These jobs will supplement, and in some cases largely replace, existing powertrain jobs in the auto industry. Through a massive new organizing effort, workers will fight to maintain and raise the standard in the emerging battery industry.

VW’s case is critical for the UAW’s push to rope in workers of foreign automakers in the U.S. The union pledged $40 million in funding last month in an effort to bring more workers onboard. Representation has fallen almost 75% since the 1970s—from 1.5 million automakers to just 383,000 in recent years.

The push to help VW workers unionize is just one effort, though, as the UAW plans to extend an olive branch to 13 other automakers, including BMW, Hyundai, Rivian, Tesla, and Toyota.

Volkswagen workers’ last attempt to unionize in 2019 narrowly missed the mark. Workers rejected the notion to organize in an 833-776 vote. A lot has changed since then, including a pay hike of factory workers in Chattanooga by 11% just last year following the intensely public UAW negotiations for other domestic automakers.

“When it comes to the union, if the employees choose to unionize, it will be their choice,” said Volkswagen Group of America CEO, Pablo Di Si. “Now, having said that, if we come to that place, we will require a legal vote.”

60%: U.S. to Revamp EV Efficiency Ratings

2025 Porsche Taycan Range Test

The U.S. Department of Energy is set to unveil a new set of industry fuel economy standards as early as today, which could spare automakers from paying as much as $10.5 billion in compliance fines over the next eight years.

As you hopefully know from reading InsideEVs, the “fuel economy” and “emissions” rules around EVs are a bit in flux. I put those in quotes for obvious reasons, but we’re talking about federal regulations that would push EVs to the forefront of the U.S. market starting at the end of this decade. But automakers initially balked at the proposed changes, saying Americans aren’t ready and neither is the charging network. 

In 2023, the DOE announced its intent to revise its “Petroleum-Equivalent Fuel Economy” (PEF) rating, which is used to equate the amount of energy stored in alternative fuel compared to a gallon of standard gasoline. The PEF is used to determine the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Compliance Value by taking into account vehicle driving patterns, as well as electricity generation, gasoline production, and distribution efficiency.

The calculations used for this rating have not been updated in over two decades.

According to Reuters, the DOE’s initial proposed revisions would have lowered the compliance values of EVs by nearly 72% over the next three years. Instead, the final rule is expected to cut the value by 65% and move the target from 2027 to 2030.

Automakers warned that a revision to the Compliance Value would mean no longer meeting fleet-wide CAFE standards, resulting in huge fines. Under the proposal, GM would face $6.5 in fines, alongside Stellantis with $3 billion and Ford with $1 billion. Easing the rules would change that.

The DOE isn’t the only agency updating rules that affect automakers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will propose revised emission requirements later this week. Likewise, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is positioned to propose its upcoming CAFE revisions later this year.

Basically, we’re about to see a wholesale reset of how regulations work for an electric future. But whether they’ll actually accelerate EV adoption, or even survive a potential change in White House this year, remains to be seen.

Blink new EV DC Fast Charger with Dual-Port CCS and NACS Connectors

Battery-powered cars are selling stronger than ever across the world. In the U.S., however, some automakers recently “rebalanced” the production of EVs versus their cars equipped with traditional combustion powertrains in their fleet.

This change is thought to be temporary as the market shifts—”ebbs and flows,” according to Blink Charging CEO Brendan Jones on Bloomberg TV last week.

EV charging companies like Blink are betting that EVs are here to stay, especially since they made up 8% of new car sales in 2023 and are expected to reach 13% in 2024. This means pushing full-steam ahead to meet the expected need of charging stations in the U.S.

Speaking of which, that number is expected to skyrocket. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory expects the need for 28 million EV charging ports to be needed on U.S. roads by 2030 to support an estimated 33 million EVs.

That doesn’t mean public charging, though. Of the 28 million, 25.7 million (92%) are expected to be a combination of Level 1 and Level 2 chargers at single family homes. An additional 2.1 million (7.6% are expected to be Level 2 chargers at public shopping places, parking garages, and multi-family homes. The remaining 182,000 (1%) are expected to be DC Fast Chargers.

To put that into perspective, the Department of Energy has tracked 40,107 DCFC ports in the U.S. at the time of writing. This would mean an increase of 450% over the next six years, or roughly 57 new DCFCs coming online every single day beginning today until the end of 2030.

That’s a pretty big pill to swallow, and it’s exactly what charging companies like Blink are betting on.

Blink is continuing to grow out its charging infrastructure to meet this need. The company says that it expects to see an estimated revenue of up to $175 million this year, an uptick of 25% versus its 2023 revenue, and a 130% jump over 2022.

100%: How Important is Efficiency When EV Shopping?

2025 Porsche Taycan Range Test

I’ll admit, when I bought my first EV, I was most concerned about the overall range. It wasn’t battery size or efficiency that called my name like it did on previous gas cars—all I cared about was how far I could get on a single charge.

With vehicles like the F-150 Lightning and GMC Hummer EV on the market, we’re seeing big vehicles with even bigger batteries hit the road. Of course, these big batteries don’t necessarily mean more range, at least not directly. Instead, they’re meant to complement efficiency to provide a more market-friendly range by adding battery capacity.

That being said, consumers are getting a bit more informed about EVs as this EV boom accelerates. So I ask you: how concerned are you about overall EV efficiency versus maximum range on a charge when shopping for a new EV? Let me know in the comments.

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