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Volkswagen Electric Car Policy Push — More Fully Electric Cars (Small Ones), Fewer PHEVs

An internal memo at Volkswagen is calling for greater incentives for small, inexpensive electric cars, lower incentives for plug-in hybrid cars, and more government support for EV charging infrastructure. The proposals will not sit well with officials at Mercedes and BMW.

Volkswagen believes the future is electric and it’s in a hurry to get there. Perhaps that seems disingenuous for a company that lied and cheated its way to the top of the auto industry by foisting off defective diesel-powered cars on an unsuspecting public for almost a decade, but compared to its peers — General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Mercedes, BMW, and others — who are slow-walking their way toward an electric car tomorrow, Volkswagen is rushing to embrace the electric car revolution.

Volkswagen MEB electric car platform,

Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that it has obtained a copy of a 23 page Volkswagen internal memo entitled “Approaches and suggestions for the better promotion of electromobility in Germany.” The memo, dated March 11, 2019, lays out in detail how, in the best of all possible worlds, the auto industry and the German government should work together to promote battery electric cars in order to lower carbon emissions from vehicles. Although the document is marked “Confidential,” Volkswagen has confirmed its authenticity to the Munich newspaper.

Herbert Diess, Volkswagen’s CEO, has gone on record recently stating that meeting the EU’s target of reducing carbon emissions from vehicles 37.5% by 2030 will require that at least 40% of new car sales be electric vehicles by then. The memo suggests current plans are inadequate for that to happen.

“[A]ll existing sales promotion projects, charging infrastructure expansion plans and the existing framework conditions are not sufficient to reach the European and German climate targets in the transport sector and therefore need to be adapted as quickly as possible.”

Volkswagen I.D,

The company proposes new incentives that would focus on smaller, less expensive cars — specifically those less than 13 feet long and costing less than €20,000. Sharp-eyed readers will note that hardly any such cars exist at the moment, although Volkswagen’s new ID electric car division could have some in showrooms soon.

Specifically, the memo calls for a €5,000 government incentive on cars shorter than 4 meters in length with at least 200 miles of range. Wanna bet the smallest ID models will fit that description? Cars 4.65 meters long would only qualify for a €2,000 incentive under the proposal. After 2020, plug-in hybrid cars (PHEVs) — which Mercedes and BMW are relying on heavily to meet EU emissions standards — would get only a €1,500 rebate and none at all after 2022. Taxes on PHEVs would also rise, creating a more favorable economic climate for fully electric cars.

Another proposal calls for free electricity for electric cars selling for less than €20,000, the cost to be shared by manufacturers, the government, and utility companies. The company is calling for a doubling of government support for expanding EV charging infrastructure and tougher penalties for drivers of gasoline or diesel cars who park illegally in front of chargers.

Is Volkswagen trying to tilt the playing field in its favor? Of course. Every corporation does. The other German car companies will cry foul, meetings will be held, editorials will be written, and government hearings will be scheduled, and eventually some of the actions proposed by Volkswagen will be approved. And maybe, somewhere along the line, other manufacturers will feel compelled to raise their own electric car game to meet the competition from the 800 lb gorilla in Wolfsburg.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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