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Published on October 9th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan


310- To 373-Mile Electric Cars By 2020, Says VW Exec

October 9th, 2014 by  

EV Obsession.

Dr Heinz-Jakob NeusserDr Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Volkswagen’s head of powertrain development, thinks that electric cars with over 300 miles of range aren’t too far off. The foundation of his argument is that the energy density of electric car batteries has been improving rapidly and will continue to do so.

“I expect the next generation in 2015-17 will increase to around 300 km [186 miles] and the following step will be around 500-600 km [310-372 miles],” Dr Neusser said when discussing the VW e-Golf.

Dr Neusser thinks we could have 500- to 600-kilometer (310- to 373-mile) electric cars by 2020.

Naturally, Dr Neusser doesn’t think plug-in hybrid electric cars will last long. They are just a short bridge technology on the way to an automobile market full of 100%-electric cars. He also included hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as a bridge technology. (Nevermind that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles aren’t green, are absurdly expensive, don’t have an infrastructure in place to support them, and Volkswagen execs have slammed fuel cell vehicles as being inefficient and hopeless outside of Japan.)

But Dr Neusser is convinced battery electric vehicles are the future.


“Battery [technology] makes the biggest steps in very short time frames. If you look at when we started with the e-mobility of the Golf, and you look now to the Passat, we have done the first step,” noted Dr Nuessen.

“We have more energy density in the batteries [than before], and in 2015-16 will come the next step which means we come from 25-28 ampere hours (Ah) energy density to 36-37Ah. Now we are actually working on the next step to around 60Ah… with research will come a completely new electro-chemical chemistry inside the batteries, and this will come at the beginning of the next decade.”

Electric cars like we have today with a typical range around 135 kilometers (84 miles) are already adequate for the large majority of our driving, over 90% of it. However, once we hit affordable electric cars with ranges around 320 kilometers (200 miles) — like Tesla, GM, and presumably Nissan and Volkswagen are working on — I think we’re going to see a massive shift to electric mobility.

The real benefits of electric cars are their excellent acceleration and much greater convenience (compared to gasmobiles), but the last remaining boogie man that is keeping average people away from even considering the cars is an often illogical concern regarding their shorter range. Once that issue is gone, I thin they will quickly find out why electric cars kick the ass of gas.

Photo Credit: Volkswagen

Source: EV Obsession. Reprinted with permission.

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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • djchristi

    This article might be merely a negative delaying tactic by VW. “Don’t buy any EV now, because it will become obsolete soon”. Preying on natural optimism to kill sales of EVs right now. My advice is – don’t believe a single word. VW has nothing to lose by making statements like this. And VW is not in the battery business, so how can they know? VW does not know.

  • VW are late to the EV party, but have arrived with all cylinders firing!! I am enthused by VW’s optimistic forward looking statements.

  • Thanks, Zach. Dr Neusser’s comments about much longer ranges, plug-in hybrids being short-term bridge technology and that we are “…on the way to an automobile
    market full of 100%-electric cars” are the best news this week. I believed in these points before he made them, but it’s good to get validation from someone in the auto industry.

  • Benjamin Nead

    I don’t think anything that VW’s Dr. Neusser is saying is all that controversial. He seems to be doing a good job at selling the idea of EVs and giving us not-so-far-out predictions of where it’s all going. PHEVs and HFCVs as bridge technologies?
    I’m in complete agreement with him there.

    I do wish, however, VW would really get going with their present day EV program.
    They’ve released their eGolf to the North American market and – if it’s anything like their other present day offerings – I’m sure it’s a winner. But, predictably, they’re keeping it in the limited-availability compliance car category.

    If you want to give Nissan a run for their money, Dr. Neusser, and gain some legitimate EV bragging rights (and let’s face it: VW has been bragging about EVs for years and only building one-off show cars all that time,) please get off the stick and make the eGolf a 50 state car. It’s no longer a prototype. What are you waiting for?

    Regarding ultra long range EVs: the range of current gasoline cars are dictated
    not so much by the size potential of the fuel tank but, rather, by the size potential of the human bladder. It’s a rare human (meth addicts, perhaps, excepted) who really wants to drive on a nonstop freeway trip for more that about 350 miles or so at normal driving speeds without pulling over to stretch, grab a bite to eat or relieve oneself. In much the same way we don’t have all that many cars with a 500+ mile range, making an EV with a similar range is not going to be all that more popular – or useful under normal conditions – than a 350 mile range one.

    The jump to an affordable EV with a 175 to 200 range, though?
    That will be a game changer, yet inevitable.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Large gas tanks may be less about the ability to drive several hours in a row and more about avoiding having to make trips to the gas station too often.

      Most people rarely drive 500 miles in a day. But the average driver needs more than a 250 mile range in order to keep gas station visits to once a week. Most of us, I suspect, find filling up at least mildly annoying.

      That simply won’t be an issue for the EV driver who will “wake up every morning with a full tank”.

      • Ronald Brakels

        And I think the European obsession with large fuel tanks in their cars stems from the desire to drive over to the country next door and fill up where the petrol is cheaper. Most Europeans can get by quite happily with much less range than their gasoline and diesel cars have.

        • GCO

          Large gas tanks were most probably the result of a marketing trick: companies, notably VW, were advertising long range to suggest good fuel economy.

        • No, gasoline is pretty expensive all over Europe and only for a small minority living close to the border it is worth driving to another country to save a few euros on a full tank.

          • Ronald Brakels

            I just had a quick look online to find out why fuel tanks on European cars are so large instead of guessing and the only answer I found was, “Becasue we don’t like going to the service station.” So I’ll go back to guessing: Better fuel economy in Europe meant service stations sold less fuel resulting in fewer service stations being built which made going there more of a chore as there was less likely to be one nearby. And this resulted in a preference for larger fuel tanks so people didn’t have to go so often.

      • Matt

        Bob, that point is in fact (I think) the main “hidden” driver of range fear. It is a change in mind set from “I have to stop somewhere to fill up”, to “OH I just plug in at night”. It is these items that our world view is based on that we no longer think about that hold us back from change.

        • Dragon

          I wonder what percentage of the population will occasionally forget to plug the car in at night, then wake up and be very late for work because they had to let the car charge and so they start hating EVs… It will take a good quick charging infrastructure or cheaper home quick charging to reduce the impact of that problem. Or an app that blares an alarm if the car’s low on charge and not plugged in after 9pm.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Easy enough to set it up so that if the car isn’t plugged it gives you a call.

  • Patrick Linsley

    One nice thing is that if people can’t afford/don’t want to buy an ev with 200+ mile range per charge there will probably be the option of renting a car with that much range per charge for long trips so you aren’t carting around so much extra weight all the time on your daily commute.

    Also the fact that anyone is talking about double the range in the next year or two and almost double that range in six absolutely floors me. Even if it turns out to be somewhat optimistic that’s an absolutely staggering learning curve in EV tech.

    • Yeah, the renting…. Like the idea that longer range ev’s are not necessary because you can rent a gasmobile when taking longer trips.

      That argument is failing because people want their car to serve their year-round needs. It just seems stupid to go through the cost and hassle of renting a car when you already have one.

  • GCO

    …And why exactly would this person make such statements, if VW actually wanted to get people to get into its current EV offering?

    Either this executive has never heard about the Osborne effect, or he has and VW is therefore deliberately, purposely attempting to delay EV adoption.

    Which is it, Mr Neusser?

    • Jouni Valkonen

      You have wrong spelling. It is not Mr. Neusser, but Mr. Naysayer.

      BTW, Tesla already has 300 mile car in production and 400 mile battery for Roadster.

      • Alxart

        Yeah but at three times the price!! I would love a Tesla, but I , like 99% of the rest of humans can’t afford to spend 90,000 on a car! At least VW is making a $35,000 (25 after tax rebate) car that we can have NOW. Sure it’s no sporty Model S, but it’s also way better than the leaf! And better looking. There will always be the obsolete factor, like buying an IPhone or computer, but I bet they will hold there value longer because there are less of them and used there will be plenty of people wanting to buy them to get used to an EV.
        I’m just getting into the EV market, and other than the Tesla, the VW seems to be the best over all car in the tiny EV market.

    • Ronald Brakels

      If he’s trying to discourage electric car purchases he’s not doing a very good job of it. If you want to see some highly effective purveyors of fetid dingo kidneys, check out Toyota in action. They got their PM spouting nonsense.

      • GCO

        Toyota has zero credibility when talking EVs. Trash-talk like in their recent ads is trivially debunked and dismissed.

        Not so with VW, which at least publicly, embraced plug-ins. Comments from their execs will be taken much more seriously, and are therefore all the more damaging.

    • Ulenspiegel

      The real pity in case of VW is IMHO that the VW Group could have easily used a Tesla strategy with their Audi branch:
      Develope a sexy EV and sell a quite limited number for 70.000 EUR, learn a lot and sell the technology to VW, Skoda and others in-house. Daimler and BMW do not have this opportunity.

  • anderlan

    I imagine one day a normal person will be able to buy a monstrous 5,000 lb land cruiser, a 1000km (625 mile), 500 horsepower king of the interstate with fully half a GigaJoule of energy anchoring it to the road. Truly a Mega (for Mega-meter) Wagon.

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