- Apr 17, 2006
- Lake Forest, CA
Looks like Electric vehicles are here to stay, not a fad as some think it is. VW was considering an $11 billion plan to build a massive battery-manufacturing facility in Germany. If they invest this much they are committed to EV for a foreseeable future.
The beleaguered VW brand is gearing up to change the subject from its diesel scandal with 5 new all-electric models. It will show a prototype of the first one next month. Here's what we know. Volkswagen is planning five new battery-electric models for its VW brand, all of which will have a range of at least 400 kilometers (about 250 miles) -- and we might see the first of them as soon as next month. In a new interview with German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche, VW brand chief Herbert Diess confirmed plans to bring five new electric VWs to market. All will be based on the Volkswagen Group's new modular electric-vehicle architecture -- and they'll be sold in the U.S., Europe, and China.
VW will show a concept car at next month's Paris Auto Show that will be a "foretaste" of the first model in the series. Diess said the new electric VW is slightly smaller than the compact Golf hatchback on the outside, but its interior room is comparable to that of the midsize Passat. It will be all-electric, battery-powered, with a range of "400 to 600 kilometers," Diess said. (But note that Europe's electric-car testing protocol generally yields longer ranges than U.S. testing methods. The range cited by Diess might translate to something more like 200 to 350 300 miles under U.S. standards. That's still impressive for mass-market electric vehicles, but not radical.) Diess expects the new electric VWs to sell at prices comparable to those of similarly sized diesel-powered models in VW's current lineup. But the first one won't go into production until late in 2018, he said. VW has a lot of work to do first.
The VW Group includes a slew of automotive brands, most notably Audi and Porsche, in addition to the namesake VW brand. Both Audi and Porsche have shown concept versions of upcoming battery-electric models. VW's goal is to be selling a million battery-electric vehicles a year by 2025. Getting to that number will require several mass-market models in addition to the luxury entries, and that's where Diess' VW brand comes in. It will also require major changes to VW's production facilities and a new global supply chain. Diess said that several VW factories will be set up to build electric cars, possibly including one in North America. The supply chain is probably a bigger challenge: Where will VW get all of the batteries it needs to power all of those vehicles?
For now, the easy answer is Asia: Several Chinese and Korean companies are aggressively expanding their lithium-ion battery-cell production capabilities. But Diess doesn't want to be entirely dependent on Asian suppliers, and he hinted that VW may seek to build its own battery-production facilities in Europe. German business newspaper Handelsblatt reported in June that VW was considering an $11 billion plan to build a massive battery-manufacturing facility at a site near an existing VW engine factory in Germany.The size of the investment suggests a factory that could rival, or even exceed, the planned output of the $5 billion Tesla Gigafactory currently under construction in Nevada. Diess hinted that the company may be seeking partners for such an effort.