VW e-Golf

Last week, at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Volkswagen unveiled the e-Up! and e-Golf models, putting official faces on at least some of the company's longstanding EV plans. We say some because, as part of the Frankfurt barrage, VW started talking about a company-wide electrified line-up that includes up to 40 vehicles, "If there is sufficient demand." Say what you want about VW's late entry into the plug-in space, that's a lot of EVs, PHEVs and hybrids.

"We have everything we need to make VW the top automaker in all respects, including electric mobility, by 2018." VW CEO Winterkorn.

As was explained to us in 2010, Volkswagen has been making prototype and concept EVs for decades. As it has gotten closer and closer to releasing production EVs, VW has been talking more and more about its EV leadership intentions, saying in January that it wanted to be the electric mobility leader. We've even been test driving the company's EV products – things like the Blue-e-motion (twice) and the XL1 – for years. We can also add in EVs from other brands, things like the Audi A3 E-tron plug-in hybrid and the Porsche Panamera S E-hybrid. But to put all the pieces together to the point where VW is the "market leader in electric mobility by 2018"? That's a challenge.

VW has said it hopes to have plug-ins account for three percent of its global sales by 2018, but it's going to start with 14 electric and hybrid models by 2014. In a press release issued last week, VW added that it spends more in R&D for electric mobility than on any other field and has trained 70,000 employees in the EV ways. VW CEO Martin Winterkorn even said, "We are starting at exactly the right time. We are electrifying all vehicle classes, and therefore have everything we need to make the Volkswagen Group the top automaker in all respects, including electric mobility, by 2018." It's not quite as inspirational as Tesla CEO Elon Musk's EV push, but it does show that the crumbs we've been following for years may lead somewhere quite intriguing. There's more of Winterkorn's speech below.
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Volkswagen launches bold offensive for age of electric mobility
  • Group sets sights on market leadership in electric mobility by 2018
  • Multi-billion investment in new technologies, 70,000 employees trained
  • Initially choice of 14 electric and hybrid models by 2014
Winterkorn: "We are starting at exactly the right time"

Wolfsburg/Frankfurt am Main, 09 September 2013 - The Volkswagen Group has set its sights on global market leadership in electric mobility. "We are starting at exactly the right time. We are electrifying all vehicle classes, and therefore have everything we need to make the Volkswagen Group the top automaker in all respects, including electric mobility, by 2018", Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, said on the eve of the 65th International Motor Show in Frankfurt am Main.

Winterkorn is convinced that Volkswagen is strongly positioned: "We have the most comprehensive approach to tomorrow's mobility. From highly-efficient, eco-friendly diesel, gasoline and natural gas-fuelled engines to classical hybrids, purely battery-driven vehicles and plug-in hybrids - no other automaker can match the broad range we have to offer." The company wants to win new customers with electric vehicles that are technically mature, practical in everyday use, safe and affordable, and is showcasing models such as the all-electric e-up! and e-Golf as well as the Audi A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid and the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, also a plug-in model, at the auto industry's leading motor show.

According to Winterkorn: "The electric car cannot be a compromise on wheels, it must convince customers in every respect." He said that environmental compatibility and sustainability were increasingly becoming the main purchasing criterion: "From the zero-emission city car, through the plug-in hybrid all-rounder to the three-liter sports saloon: It is our customers who decide for themselves just how much e-mobility they want." He went on to say that electric-drive vehicles were a key building block for achieving the ambitious climate protection targets, and that the plug-in hybrid had the greatest market potential.

Initially, a total of 14 models from several Group brands will be available with electric or hybrid drive technology by 2014. If there is sufficient demand, up to 40 new models could be fitted with alternative drivetrains. Winterkorn underscored that Volkswagen had placed electric mobility "at the center of the Group": "We have developed the know-how for electric motors and battery systems at our own components plants, we have recruited 400 top experts for electric traction and qualified almost 70,000 development, production and service employees in this new technology – the biggest electrification training program in our industry."

The Volkswagen Group invests over seven billion euros in research and development each year. A significant share is spent on developing technologies and components for electric mobility – more than in any other field.

The key to rolling out electric mobility swiftly and efficiently across all brands and vehicle classes is the modular toolkit systems which from the start have been designed for assembling electric drives. Production in Bratislava, Puebla, Wolfsburg, Leipzig or Ingolstadt can now respond flexibly and at low risk to demand as it arises and can reduce both weight and costs through the use of proven components.

According to Winterkorn, anyone who genuinely takes ecological responsibility seriously goes one step further: "We must have a holistic mindset and a comprehensive approach to mobility – from generating energy through development, production, retail and vehicle operation right down to recycling. Our clear goal, therefore, is to lead with holistic, modern mobility concepts."

In Europe, Volkswagen Group brands currently offer 420 model variants with maximum CO2 emissions of 130 grams per kilometer, 302 models emitting a maximum of 120 g/km, 50 models emitting up to 100 g/km and 23 models emitting 95 g/km or less. The Volkswagen XL1 plug-in hybrid has the lowest emissions. The world's most efficient series production vehicle has CO2 emissions of 21 g/km, consumes 0.9 liters of fuel and has a range of 500 kilometers, making it the company's technological spearhead.