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Volkswagen Claims Small Electric SUV, Two Entry Level Electric Cars In The Works

Volkswagen CEO Thomas Schäfer tells Autocar that the company plans to introduce two entry level EVs and a small crossover electric car.

In an interview with Autocar, Volkswagen Brand CEO Thomas Schäfer said a crossover version of the popular ID.3 hatchback is on the way as the company looks to capitalize on the exploding small SUV market.

In his remarks, he said the new model would look dramatically different than the ID.3 when it arrives sometime before 2026 rather than being a “Russian doll” approach to styling. The ID.4 is currently the German brand’s smallest electric SUV, sharing the MEB platform with the ID.3, but with a significantly bigger footprint than its hatchback counterpart. One of the key features of the MEB platform is that it is able to be made longer or shorter, wider or narrower, to suit a variety of models.

Schäfer also said Volkswagen will introduce two versions of its highly anticipated entry level electric car, which will start at around £20,000. He described the upcoming duo as “a small car and a sporty crossover variant.” They will be similar in size to the current Volkswagen Polo and Volkswagen T-Cross, both of which rely on a tried and true Verbrennungsmotor.

These new cars will be among ten new electric cars to be launched by 2026, including updates to some existing models. Schäfer claimed when the new models are all on sale, Volkswagen will have the broadest portfolio of electric cars in the automotive industry.

“From the entry-level e-car with a target price of under €25,000 to the Volkswagen ID Buzz and the new flagship Volkswagen ID Aero, we will have the right offer in every segment,” he said, and then added the MEB platform continues to make “significant advances, for example in terms of range, performance and helpful features.” The MEB platform will disappear later this decade, to be replaced by a new architecture called SSP — which stands for scalable systems platform — on which all large volume Volkswagen Group models will be based.

Volkswagen To Boldly Go Into The Future

Schäfer said that Volkswagen is “shedding old habits” in terms of its product lineup to focus on core models and will “noticeably simplify our model range and packages over the next ten years.” That means some well-known conventional models will disappear and there will be significantly fewer options for customers to choose from.

“In each segment we compete in, we want to live up to our Leading Volume motto: do less but get it right,” Shäfer said. His interview with Autocar comes on the 100th day after he stepped into his new role as Volkswagen Brand CEO, following the elevation of former Porsche chief executive Oliver Blume to his new position as head of Volkswagen Group.

He told Autocar his motto is “best brand, best team, best results.” Shäfer said the brands were clearly positioned and differentiated to address different customers, while there was a “lean engine room working behind the scenes on synergies and efficiencies.”

Across its 23 production plants, the company is now shifting its focus from individual models at each factory towards grouping by platforms. By applying a principle of “develop once, implement worldwide,” the company will save €220 million this year. Its goal overall is to ensure 20% efficiency gains in synergy, 8% return on investment across its volume brands, and for those brands to account for 80% of entire volume of the Volkswagen Group.

“Admittedly, in the past, this was more a snare than an impetus. That’s finally over now. Volkswagen, Seat, Cupra, Skoda and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles — we’re leveraging the huge potential of the brand group volume to give us a competitive edge,” he added, in what might be interpreted at a not so subtle dig at former Group CEO Herbert Diess.

Schäfer is bullish on the Volkswagen brand. “People have smiles on their faces and pull out their smartphones when they see a Volkswagen Beetle, Microbus or Golf GTI. To us, our heritage is not a burden but a real asset. And that’s exactly what we want to build on again. Internally, I said to my team, “VW has to become a love brand again! A friendly brand that people like. A brand that listens and offers exactly what our customers want — especially in the electric and digital age of mobility.”

Finally, he told Autocar that in the new scheme of things, Skoda will develop the new Skoda Superb and Volkswagen Passat and be responsible for India and the entry level MQB A0 platform. Seat and Cupra will take responsibility for work on small EVs, while Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will focus on autonomous driving development. Volkswagen Brand will be in charge of developing the new SSP platform.

The Takeaway

There has been a fair amount of turmoil in the management ranks at Volkswagen Group and Volkswagen Brand recently. Now, all appears to be calm as a new team of leaders seeks to guide the company into the future. One question that popped up around the fondue pot at CleanTechnica global headquarters recently was whether new entry level cars from Volkswagen and others would force Tesla to respond with an entry level car of its own. That’s a question that won’t be answered for several years, so far as we know.

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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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