The Volkswagen Group has set its sights on global market leadership in electric mobility. With Renault-Nissan currently leading the way in the field of electric mobility, Volkswagen are starting a battle that can only be good for the consumer. With both Renault and Nissan electric models already on sale, including the top selling Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen have an uphill struggle to overtake them as the market leader.
Not only are Renault and Nissan’s models more established, but Renault is also heavily involved with Formula E which will likely help promote electric mobility as it starts its inaugural season in September 2014.
The collaborative power between Daimler and Renault-Nissan is also a force not to be ignored as they are likely to already be working on producing the next iteration of electric cars such as the next four seat smart and Renault Twingo which will further strengthen their current offerings.
Essentially, Volkswagen’s announcement and declaration of intent can only be a good thing for the average consumer, mass marketing of electric cars and competition within the industry will ultimately drive prices down. Further implications will reach into infrastructure, whereby electric charging facilities are likely to become more widespread as more and more people adopt electric power as a main means of transport.
However, in the interim, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles serve as having the most market potential providing the best compromise between traditional internal combustion engines (ICE) and pure electric power.
Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, said on the eve of the 65th International Motor Show in Frankfurt am Main,
“We are starting at exactly the right time. We are electrifying all vehicle classes, and therefore have everything we need to make the Volkswagen Group the top automaker in all respects, including electric mobility, by 2018”
Winterkorn is convinced that Volkswagen is in a strong position,
“We have the most comprehensive approach to tomorrow’s mobility. From highly-efficient, eco-friendly diesel, gasoline and natural gas-fuelled engines to classical hybrids, purely battery-driven vehicles and plug-in hybrids – no other automaker can match the broad range we have to offer.”
The company wants to win new customers with electric vehicles that are technically mature, practical in everyday use, safe and affordable, and is showcasing models such as the all-electric e-up! , e-load up! and e-Golf as well as the Audi A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid and the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, also a plug-in model, and of course the fabulous Porsche 918 Spyder which is also a hybrid at the auto industry’s leading motor show.
According to Winterkorn,
“The electric car cannot be a compromise on wheels, it must convince customers in every respect.”
He said that environmental compatibility and sustainability were increasingly becoming the main purchasing criterion,
“From the zero-emission city car, through the plug-in hybrid all-rounder to the three-litre sports saloon: It is our customers who decide for themselves just how much e-mobility they want.”
He went on to say that electric-drive vehicles were a key building block for achieving the ambitious climate protection targets, and that the plug-in hybrid had the greatest market potential.
Initially, a total of 14 models from several Group brands will be available with electric or hybrid drive technology by 2014. If there is sufficient demand, up to 40 new models could be fitted with alternative drivetrains. Winterkorn underscored that Volkswagen had placed electric mobility “at the centre of the Group”,
“We have developed the know-how for electric motors and battery systems at our own components plants, we have recruited 400 top experts for electric traction and qualified almost 70,000 development, production and service employees in this new technology – the biggest electrification training programme in our industry.”
The Volkswagen Group invests over seven billion euros in research and development each year. A significant share is spent on developing technologies and components for electric mobility – more than in any other field.
The key to rolling out electric mobility swiftly and efficiently across all brands and vehicle classes is the modular toolkit systems which from the start have been designed for assembling electric drives. Production in Bratislava, Puebla, Wolfsburg, Leipzig or Ingolstadt can now respond flexibly and at low risk to demand as it arises and can reduce both weight and costs through the use of proven components.
According to Winterkorn, anyone who genuinely takes ecological responsibility seriously goes one step further,
“We must have a holistic mindset and a comprehensive approach to mobility – from generating energy through development, production, retail and vehicle operation right down to recycling. Our clear goal, therefore, is to lead with holistic, modern mobility concepts.”
In Europe, Volkswagen Group brands currently offer 420 model variants with maximum CO2 emissions of 130 grams per kilometre, 302 models emitting a maximum of 120 g/km, 50 models emitting up to 100 g/km and 23 models emitting 95 g/km or less. The Volkswagen XL1 plug-in hybrid has the lowest emissions. The world’s most efficient series production vehicle has CO2 emissions of 21 g/km, consumes 0.9 litres of fuel and has a range of 500 kilometres, making it the company’s technological spearhead.
Suggested reading: Renault-Nissan & Daimler to Collaborate on Electric Cars