German car-maker Volkswagen, still feeling the impact of the “Dieselgate” scandal, is promising to match electric vehicle industry leader Tesla in terms of performance, and beat it on price.
VW CEO Herbert Diess, in comments made on German television last week, challenged Tesla and CEO/Founder Elon Musk with the promise that: “We will come in 2020 with vehicles that can do anything like Tesla and are cheaper by half.”
VW already has a whole all-electric series planned, which it says it will market under the I.D. badge, and will start off with an all-electric hatch codenamed “Neo”. It aims to have 25 per cent of the global EV market in coming year.
Talking on the ZDF program “Maybrit Illner” last Thursday, Diess said VW’s role in the diesel emissions scandal is taking its emotional toll.
“We already see responsibility for us, especially at Volkswagen,” he said. “Still, I find the discussion we are conducting now too emotional.”
While legal solutions to Dieselgate are still being determined ($US2 million for the US supercharging network Electrify America being one already underway), the scandal still has its senior execs on the back foot.
Diess is not ruling out hardware retrofitting affected diesel vehicles, “if the customer wants it then”, but said that VW wants to bear only 80 per cent of the cost (affected diesel vehicles are according to VW software updates to “100 percent compliant”).
Instead, Diess preferred to point to the multi-billion Euro electric offensive to which VW is committing.
“Here we come now very strong. We have invested €30 billion in electromobility, we have already rededicated a plant in Zwickau, and we are building an electric vehicle plant in Shanghai,” he said.
Although electric vehicles are likely to cost more at first, Diess says that “truly highly attractive vehicles” would come in 2019/2020, “which will be an alternative for many customers in terms of price, performance, range, and chargeability . ”
“And then comes a big boom!”
From the end of 2019, the first all-electric models of VW’s ID series will be off the line at the car-maker’s Zwickau plant, according to comments made by VW CFO Frank Witter last Wednesday at the 22nd International Motor Show in Zwickau.
VW expects 1,500 production EVs to be produced each day from 2020. Currently, the only VW cars manufactured in Zwickau are the Golf and Golf Variant.
In the coming years, the company expects a global electrical share of 20 to 25 percent, with China being the main driver of development.
At present, VW is building around 10.7 million cars a year worldwide, with Zwickau not expected to meet the demand for electric vehicles.
To that end, VW intends to expand its Foshan factory in China with a view to an all-electric production line producing 100,000 EVs a year by 2020.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.