At a media event in Wolfsburg, Germany on March 15, Volkswagen offered more details about the portfolio of electric cars it intends to build on the MEB platform. We know about the 5-door hatchback coming later this year — which may or may not be called Neo — and the ID Crozz electric SUV to follow. We now about the way cool ID Buzz, an all electric reincarnation of the iconic VW microbus.
But the news from Wolfsburg is that there may be an “MEB entry family” with prices starting as low as €20,000. Now, these won’t be Tesla fighters. They won’t be long range tourers meant for coast to coast journeys on the Super Slab. What they will be is vehicles intended to meet the needs of urban drivers.
According to a report in Ward’s Auto, they will be offered with a number of battery choices depending on needs and budget. The entry level cars are expected to have a range of around 200 km or roughly 125 miles. In other words, a little less than the current Nissan LEAF equipped with a 40 kWh battery but priced about 40% less.
Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess has suggested his company is preparing a number of “small city cars” as part of its electric car strategy that he thinks will see sales of up to 22 million Volkswagen EVs by the year 2028. Now doubt many of them will be sold under the Skoda or SEAT brands that are part of the Volkswagen Group.
At the Geneva auto show last week, Micheal Jost, VW’s head of strategy, told Ward’s the company expects it will be able to build its least expensive I.D. electric vehicles in just 10 hours. He confirmed they will be built in Germany. “Electric cars can be built faster than ICE models at much less man-hours. But you have greater material costs. That means labor costs are not such a critical component in the overall production cost as they are today,” he said.
Despite plans to offer a full range of EVs, Jost said Volkswagen will continue with a business model that sees it introduce new models every seven years. “We don’t see any need to change what we are doing now, but with the introduction of over-the-air upgrades the cars will remain fresher throughout their life cycle.”
He added he expects cars with internal combustion engines will not be available in key markets such as Europe, China and the U.S. after 2040. “Electric is not a bridge technology, it’s a target technology,” he said. “The goal must be a CO2-neutral society.”
But to get there, electric cars will need to be able to compete on price with the Hyundai Accents and Nissan Versas of the world. Not everyone needs to travel long distances or have every digital convenience imaginable. They just have to be able to get back and forth to work in a reliable car they can afford. When that happens, the EV revolution will truly be complete.
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