While the Renault-Nissan alliance was one of the first to market electric vehicles in a big way, the Volkswagen Group has decided that now’s the time to push for a greater adoption of electric power.
“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”, Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG, said on the eve of the Frankfurt motor show.
In his closing statement at the VW Group’s traditional preview evening that takes place the night before each major motor show, Winterkorn announced that he was now convinced of the viability of electric cars, and in VW’s market position.
“We have the most comprehensive approach to tomorrow’s mobility. From highly-efficient, eco-friendly diesel, petrol engines to classical hybrids, purely battery-driven vehicles and plug-in hybrids - no other automaker can match the broad range we have to offer.”
Next year, 14 models from several VW Group brands will be available with electric or hybrid drive. VW will monitor customer demand closely – without it, the plan will be revised.
If demand is there, Winterkorn confirmed up to 40 new models could be fitted with alternative drivetrains, with a focus on all-electric cars. The largest slice of the seven billion euros VW spends on R&D each year goes on electric mobility.
This includes ensuring that its latest platforms and modular powertrains can be swiftly adapted to use electric power. What’s more, Winterkorn confirmed that the VW Group’s factories in Bratislava, Puebla, Wolfsburg, Leipzig or Ingolstadt are all ready to boost electric vehicle production if there is sufficient demand.
He added, “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.”