Volkswagen is upping its EV game — again. This week, it revealed its New Auto strategy, which envisions half of all sales being EVs by 2030. CEO Herbert Diess said, “The future of cars and of individual mobility will be bright. Volkswagen Group with its innovative brands and state-of-the art platforms is preparing to play an important role in the new world of mobility.”
The company says,
“Profit and revenue pools are expected to shift gradually from internal combustion engine cars to battery electric vehicles and then to software and services, boosted by autonomous driving. The ICE market is set to decline by more than 20% over the next 10 years. In parallel, BEVs are projected to grow rapidly and overtake ICEs as a leading technology.
“At an estimated €1.2 trillion, by 2030, software enabled sales could add around one third on top of the expected BEV and ICE sales, more than doubling the overall mobility market from around €2 trillion today to a projected €5 trillion. Individual mobility, based on cars, is expected to still account for 85% of the market and Volkswagen’s business.”
The plan includes a focus on “mechatronics,” whatever the heck that is!
The New Auto strategy is in line with policy initiatives by the European Union that could see the end of sales for conventional cars powered by internal combustion engines by 2035. The Verge reports the EU wants member countries to install public charging stations no more than 60 kilometers apart on major roads by 2025. Ultimately it expects 3.5 million new charging stations throughout the EU by 2030 and 16.3 million by 2050.
Five MEB Models
The EV push from Volkswagen will rely on its MEB platform for battery electric cars which will expand to 5 vehicles. First came the ID.3 hatchback, then the ID.4 SUV (the ID.5 is a variant of the ID.4 but with a more coupe-like roof line). A larger ID.6 SUV has been announced for China and Motor 1 says an ID.8 — a 7-passenger SUV equivalent in size to the current VW Atlas — will be introduced soon. That leaves the ID. Buzz, which may be primarily a commercial van in most parts of the world, but which Diess says will be the central focus of Volkswagen’s sales ambitions in America.
The original VW Microbus became a cultural icon in the US. It symbolized the peace movement and the Woodstock generation. When you were driving one of those under-powered, none too reliable vehicles, it was easy to imagine the moon was in the seventh house, Jupiter was aligned with Mars, and the Age of Aquarius was just around the next bend in the road.
Diess wants the ID. Buzz to recapture that vibe. He tells The Drive, “It’s a very emotional moment for me because I was pushing, when I still was in charge of the Volkswagen brand, very strongly for that product. I think, in the electrified world, we need emotional products. And the most iconic product we have in our entire product range is probably the Volkswagen bus.” Is this what Diess meant when he said recently that his company is having a serious rethink about its US EV sales strategy?
“Americans really tied the bus to the lifestyle and experience and memories of the ’70s. It really adds something to the brand which competitors don’t have and there are still so many memories in the United States. It’s really a pity that we lost the United States as a core market. Basically [there was] decline from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and we couldn’t regain momentum until now. Now we have a historic chance.”
“I think with this electrification we can bring back really a specific edge to the Volkswagen brand, which could come close to American buyers hearts and probably their memories. We have, I think, a really exciting lineup for the United States to come. ID.4 is hitting the road and received nicely but an ID Buzz, we had that experience in Pebble Beach,” (in 2017) which Diess says caused “really an uproar” in US interest.
“I think the design will come very close to what people would expect from a remake of an ID Buzz. It will come with some very nice features as well, so very clean design. I think it can help and I can promise it will come to the United States, I hope soon. It will be one part of a new lineup of excitement which will include more electric cars, which we are currently working on.”
Certainly the CleanTechnica community is enthusiastic about the ID. Buzz. But America today is a very different country from America in the ’70s. Will those who play Sweet Home Alabama 7 times a day, 7 days a week be as emotionally involved with the ID. Buzz as Jefferson Airplane fans were 50 years ago? Maybe or maybe not.
Relying on 50-year-old nostalgia may not be a brilliant sales strategy for Volkswagen, especially at a time when 98.765% of the American new car market is either SUVs or pickup trucks. The ID. Buzz is essentially a minivan, which Americans hate more than liver and onions with a side of broccoli.
Electrify America To Double Number Of Chargers
In other Volkswagen news, Electrify America, the EV charging network owned by the company, said this week it will more than double its network of EV charging stations by 2025. Already the largest fast charging network in the United States, the company will operate more than 1,800 fast chargers and 10,000 individual charging stations in nearly all 50 states once the expansion is completed.
Eve Lukens-Day of Environment America hailed the announcement. “Transportation is the number one source of warming emissions in the United States, and the majority come from everyday cars and trucks. Climate change is happening now. Last month was the hottest June ever recorded in the US and even worse heatwaves are expected later this summer. Electrify America’s latest expansion plan starts us on a longer road toward making the investment in electric vehicle infrastructure that’s needed to stop climate change.”
“Switching to electric vehicles is essential to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and cleaning up our air,” says John Stout of the Public Interest Research Group. “Even as electric car models are improving, with the latest generation able to go up to 300 miles on a single charge, expanding access to public charging stations, especially fast chargers, will help people feel more comfortable about buying electric cars.
Some people will never forgive Volkswagen for its diesel cheating scandal, just as some will never forgive General Motors for failing to take action when its ignition switches failed or Ford for immolating Pinto drivers. It’s true. Volkswagen’s lying and cheating was despicable, but it does seem to be taking the high road when it comes to pushing the EV revolution forward.
Are its electric cars as good as Teslas? Maybe not. But the marketplace loves choices and Volkswagen is giving customers plenty of those. Perhaps it is time to take our foot off of Volkswagen’s neck for its past sins. VW and most other companies spotted Tesla a 5-year headstart and are rushing to catch up. More models and more charging infrastructure are reasons to applaud the company — at least with one hand.
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