VW's dealers will be put into three categories based on their market size and market opportunity to sell BEVs, Keogh said.
"We have a varied network, from dealers selling 2,000 cars a year to dealers doing 30,000 or 40,000 cars," he said, adding that the automaker wanted to be "cognizant" of the investment and overhead. "We know that electrification is not going to be 100 percent equal in all markets."
In terms of facility readiness, Keogh said the biggest focus for VW and its dealers will be installation of charging infrastructure and readiness in a dealer's fixed operations to repair and maintain the ID4 and subsequent BEVs. Keogh said the factory will "match the dealers 50 cents to the dollar" on facility investments to offset costs to sell them, including engineering and installation costs for high-capacity chargers, changes in service bays to make them compatible with servicing EVs and updated signage and showroom displays. Dealers will undergo a factory assessment to determine what they must do to qualify for the program, but it is open to any U.S. Volkswagen dealer.
To ready shoppers to think of Volkswagen if they're ready to put their toe in the EV world, Keogh said VW will establish a joint marketing fund "intended to do things like dealer events, marketing, traditional marketing — any sort of outreach, anything — because we think a big component of this is to make sure that a dealer is marketing [BEVs] locally, not just on the national stuff that we do," Keogh said. He said the co-op match of local dealer marketing funds could be as high as 75 percent, depending on market opportunities, up to an undisclosed cap for each dealer.
"This is a car that we want to be sold in a very transparent, modern, omnichannel fashion. And we'll make sure our dealers have the tools to do that," Keogh said.
After the meeting, Volkswagen Dealer Advisory Council Chairman John Luciano said response to the program was overwhelmingly positive, and he emphasized that participation is voluntary.
"We had so many people that came up and said, 'Wow, I was not in for any of this — zero, not my market not my world.' And now I'm seeing that maybe instead I own that market, because I think everybody else around me" will be too cautious to take a chance on BEVs.
Luciano said he believed perhaps as few as 10 percent of VW dealers nationally would completely sit out, with the rest preparing to retail the ID4 and future BEVs from the brand. "The big question they're asking is, 'When can I have the car?' And if they didn't care, they just wouldn't be asking that question," he said.