Building electric vehicles for the future of transportation and the planet doesn’t just require new technologies, but new people behind “the people’s car.”
At Volkswagen of America, the G4 e-mobility unit and Engineering and Planning Center (EPC) in Chattanooga help deliver and support the sales of EVs like the ID.4 all-electric SUV.
Bringing these vehicles to life requires a set of talents that’s relatively new to the automotive industry – from electrical charging experts to high voltage safety specialists, many are pioneers in their roles across America. Here are four such individuals and the important jobs they play in helping Volkswagen accomplish its electrification mission.
Taylor Olson, EV Sales Strategy & Dealer Development Lead
Olson works directly with Volkswagen dealerships to equip their associates with the training and tools needed to sell electric vehicles like the ID.4. She ensures that the brand’s dealers and field teams have the necessary equipment and know-how to provide EV customers with an exceptional car buying experience.
As part of the readiness effort, Olson manages communications platforms that share up-to-date information on EV product news, digital sales and other resources with dealers. She also answers questions and works hands on with the EV specialists at dealerships.
While learning a new product isn’t easy, Olson is instrumental in incentivizing dealers to truly embrace, learn about and invest in EVs. “I transitioned into this role because I really wanted to be part of the EV projects at Volkswagen,” said Olson. “I really enjoy the ability to transform part of the industry and define from scratch what it looks like for Volkswagen to sell an electric vehicle.”
Pearse Daly, EV Readiness Specialist on Charging
Daly is a subject matter expert at Volkswagen and go-to resource for internal teams on all things related to EV charging – from at-home charging software to charging packages with Electrify America. He advocates for and helps create unique training content that educates field teams and puts customers at ease when purchasing a new EV. Daly acknowledges that the initial knowledge barrier is the hardest part of selling an electric car and charging can be difficult to understand. To help close the knowledge gap, Daly identifies opportunities to improve dealer training materials so that customers can be successful with their ID.4 at home.
“One of the most exciting things I get to do is influence the product. The fact that my voice is heard as a subject matter expert is such a gift,” said Daly. “The effort Volkswagen is putting behind bringing electric vehicles to masses – and having the opportunity to help this brand go electric – is incredible.”
Scott McKeehan, High Voltage Safety & PCMS Lead
McKeehan is responsible for all high voltage activities, including training, procedures and policies, at Chattanooga’s EPC. He certifies Volkswagen engineers to work on high voltage systems including battery testing with safety in mind.
While a traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) car operates on a 12-volt system, EVs can operate anywhere between 350-400 volts, resulting in a very high potential for harm if not handled properly. McKeehan finds that most employees are eager and excited to learn more about the field and work with high voltage products. Since the beginning of this year, he’s been able to train more than 20 people and is scheduled to certify 20-30 more before the year ends.
“I’ve been an electric guy and a car guy since the late 1970s, so working on EVs really feels like my two interests coming together,” said McKeehan. “It’s exciting to be on the ground floor at a company like Volkswagen building EVs and working with new and emerging technologies.”
Reagan Shawn, MEB Product Strategy Specialist
In his role, Shawn acts as a liaison between the sales team and various departments at Volkswagen. He helps internal stakeholders communicate by getting answers to questions and helping internal teams make essential decisions about EV projects. Developing EVs is more fast paced than traditional products, so this role is vital to drive projects forward at a competitive speed when compared to other automakers. Volkswagen is emerging as a leader in the EV space, but Shawn thinks VWoA has a special advantage.
“There are a few vehicles that come to mind when it comes to EVs, but I think the difference with Volkswagen is that we [Volkswagen of America] went all in,” said Shawn. “We have invested more [money globally] than any other company has and leverage our research and development resources to ultimately put a great product into the hands of our customers.”