Volkswagen has unveiled further details of its bid to take on electric vehicle market leader Tesla, with plans to produce 50 million EVs and deliver price falls of around 40 per cent while it does so.
In a series of statements and interviews over the last week, VW has outlined its plans to source its battery needs and upgrade three factories in Germany as it prepares for what will be a game-changing strategy shift for the automaker, still struggling to shake off the impacts of “diesel-gate”.
Emden, where the Passat is currently manufactured will become a centre of EV production, as will Hannover and Zwickau, where the automaker plans to produce the first of its I.D. electric vehicle series, the Neo EV hatchback.
“We are moving at full speed into the production of electric vehicles. Emden and Hanover are to be further model plants in Germany,” board member Gunnar Kilian said in a statement.
“Together with Zwickau, they will form the largest network for the production of electric vehicles in Europe.”
CEO Herbert Diess believes VW’s manufacturing might, and its positioning in the world’s largest EV market, China, means it is well placed for the EV transition.
Diess told European site Automotive News that the battery supply already been sourced from three Asian companies (CATL in China and LG and Samsung in South Korea), and it has also booked production of 50 million full-electric cars across its plants.
“We will be very big in electric cars worldwide because we are very strong in China. We have huge economies of scale,” he said. “I think we have the best setup strategy for the electric vehicles to come.”
Diess has previously said that VW can produce cars as good as Tesla, but for half the price, and at the time it was assumed the VW chief was referring to its all-electric I.D. series.
Diess has gone into further detail, saying that making EVs using VW’s modular MEB electric drivetrain platform, the carmaker can achieve a 40 per cent decrease in cost basis for a next-gen all-electric Golf, without skimping on range and size.
“A 40 per cent cost reduction, but a much better car; twice the range, bigger interior, but outside, still a compact car,” Diess said.
While the e-Golf has been around for some years now (early models were rolling off the production line in the early 2010s), the upcoming I.D. series is generating the greatest interest in VW’s electrification plans.
The first in the I.D lineup for VW will be the I.D. Neo, which is slated for sales in 2020.
Editor’s note: VW has since stated that CEO Herbet Diess mis-quoted the number of EVs the carmaker intends on producing. “Diess meant to say 15 million, not 50 million cars,” the spokesman said.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.