Wed, Sep 13, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Volkswagen plans all-electric lineup

ROAD MAP:The German conglomerate is to spend 20 billion euros on the vehicles by 2030, with an additional 50 billion euro investment on batteries to power them

Bloomberg

Volkswagen AG’s new I.D. Crozz concept car is presented at the International Motor Show Germany in Frankfurt yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Volkswagen AG CEO Matthias Mueller announced sweeping plans to build electric versions of all 300 models in the group’s lineup as the world’s largest automaker accelerates the shift away from combustion engines and tries to draw a line under an emissions cheating scandal.

Speaking on the eve of the International Motor Show Germany in Frankfurt, the CEO laid out the enormity of the task ahead, vowing to spend 20 billion euros (US$24 billion) to develop and bring the models to market by 2030 and promising to plow another 50 billion euros into the batteries needed to power the cars.

“We have got the message and we will deliver,” Mueller said in his speech to hundreds of guests at the automaker’s event in the German financial capital. “The transformation in our industry is unstoppable, and we will lead that transformation.”

Catching up in electric vehicles is key to the German manufacturer’s effort to move beyond its diesel emissions crisis that erupted two years ago and meet tightening emission rules across the globe.

China over the weekend became the latest country to announce plans to phase out fossil fuel-powered vehicles, following the lead of the UK and France.

The move by China, the world’s biggest auto market, is sure to accelerate a global shift to electrics.

Volkswagen is throwing the firepower of its 12 brands behind the push, aiming to catch up with the likes of Tesla Inc and transform from a battery vehicle laggard into a leader.

Tesla has started to roll out the US$35,000 Model 3 to broaden its appeal and stem billions of dollars in losses.

Leaving its upmarket niche is putting the Californian start-up on a direct collision course with traditional automakers like Volkswagen, Toyota Motor Corp and Nissan Motor Co as falling battery costs are forecast to make electric cars more affordable in coming years.

Volkswagen, Daimler AG and BMW AG are all accelerating electric vehicle plans to react to slumping sales of diesel models amid the fallout from Volkswagen’s cheating scandal. With their big cars, German automakers are particularly reliant on diesel in their home market of Europe and had been banking on the fuel-efficient engines to help meet ever tougher emissions rules that will tighten further early next decade.

Underscoring the enormity of the shift taking place in the industry, Mueller said Volkswagen will need the equivalent of at least four gigafactories for battery cells by 2025 just to meet its own vehicle production.

At 50 billion euros, the CEO announced one of the largest tenders in the industry’s history for the procurement of batteries.

“Financially we’re very robust,” Mueller said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “We’ll generate the money we need to make these investments.”

By 2025, Volkswagen aims to have 50 purely battery-powered vehicles and 30 hybrid models in its lineup, with a goal of selling as many as 3 million purely battery-powered cars by then. The transformation will pick up speed after that to reach the 2030 goal as economies of scale and better infrastructure help bring down prices and accelerate sales.

In Frankfurt, the automaker is giving the public its first glimpse of the coming overhaul of the product portfolio. The namesake brand is presenting the latest design iteration of the fully-electric I.D. Crozz compact crossover and the I.D. Neo hatchback — both come to market in 2020.

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