Volkswagen EV Chief: We Want to Lead in Electrification

By · January 08, 2013

VW electric Golfs

A small fleet of all-electric e-Golfs at the VW's Electronics Research Laboratory in Silicon Valley. The e-Golf will be introduced as VW's first EV in the United States in 2014.

In a presentation to a small group of journalists, Volkswagen executives on Monday revealed the company’s roadmap for electric vehicles. The meeting took place in Belmont, Calif., at VW’s Electronics Research Laboratory. “We want to become the leader in electrification,” said Dr. Rudolf Krebs, Volkswagen Group chief officer for electric traction.

Dr. Krebs said that Volkswagen’s internal combustion vehicles have become more efficient in recent years, but will not be enough to achieve the auto industry’s environmental goals. “There will be a gap and it can only be closed with electrification,” he said.

Dr. Krebs also revealed that, two years ago, the VW Group set an internal target of having plug-in electric cars—a mix of pure battery electric cars and plug-in hybrids—represent 3 percent of sales by 2018. He confirmed that the Volkswagen e-up! would go into production in mid-2013, and go on sale in Europe in fall 2013.

The e-up!, a small all-electric commuter car, will not be sold in the United States, according to Dr. Krebs. An all-electric version of the VW Golf will go into production in early 2014—and will be sold in 2014 in the United States. The e-Golf and other future plug-in models will be sold in multiple U.S. markets, not just California. Further details about these two all-electric models were not provided.

Dr. Krebs pointed to limited driving range as “the basic problem” with pure EVs. He said that VW will put a lot of emphasis on plug-in hybrids in a range of vehicle segments. When asked if plug-in hybrids would be offered in large vehicles as well as small cars, he replied, “Why not?”

A Roadmap Full of Plug-in Hybrids

A PowerPoint slide displayed to the five journalists in attendance showed a plug-in hybrid version of the Porsche 918 Spyder going into production in 2013—followed by no fewer than six plug-in hybrids beginning in 2014. That list included plug-in hybrid versions of the Audi A3, Audi A6, Audi A8, Audi Q7, as well as PHEV variants of the VW Golf and Passat. This lineup would be added to—rather than replacing—the VW e-up! and e-Golf that will be introduced in Europe in later this year. He did not specify how many of the future PHEVs would be sold in the United States—but gave the impression that VW was seeking a leadership role in plug-in cars in all global markets, in order to achieve the 3-percent target in five years.

VW electrification roadmap

VW's slide outlining the company's electrification roadmap.

Volkswagen plug-in hybrids will have about 35 or 40 miles of all-electric range. Dr. Krebs said that according to VW’s analysis, a battery electric vehicle carries five times the cost of a conventional internal combustion model. He called plug-in hybrids an “interim solution” that by reducing the size of the battery would allow VW to produce full-range plug-in hybrid vehicles at the same cost as battery electric cars.

Dr. Krebs ruled out the possibility of VW bringing battery manufacturing in-house—explaining that relying on suppliers would allow the flexibility to choose the right battery chemistry and packaging, and to switch suppliers if necessary, as the technology evolves. He ruled out the use of commodity cells, which Volkswagen had been exploring (and which Tesla Motors utilizes for its vehicles). Dr. Krebs said that the use of commodity 18650 cells required additional housing, connections and parts that made them less cost-effective on a kilowatt-hour basis than automotive grade lithium ion cells.

VW will also rely on strategic partnerships for a range of charging solutions and other connected and smart-grid services required by EVs, as well as solar solutions that work well with electric vehicles. “We have to think beyond the car,” he said.

Although the eUp! will be offered in the Europe, but not the United States, Dr. Krebs did not see a fundamental difference between how European and American consumers view EVs—except that he believes U.S. consumers are more cost sensitive.

Executives reiterated the company’s goal of becoming the world’s number one seller of automobiles by 2018, explaining that electric mobility was a “game-changer” for the industry.


· · 5 years ago

In the future EREV of the group I hope it will be possible to have some choice. When we by a standard Passat it can be a sedan or a station wagon but it can also be a 1400 cc 1600 cc 1800 cc or a 2000 cc engine. It can have automatic transmission or different manual transmissions.

Likewise an EREV Passat could give the choice between a 25 miles, 50 miles or 75 miles battery. It could have a 254 cc Wankel range extender or a 500 cc range extender. There would also be the choice between a 75 KW, a 100 KW or a 150 KW electric motor.

Perhaps it could also be a PHEH with full dual motorization if really needed for an extra cost due to more complex transmission and larger 1800 cc engine.

· David Martin (not verified) · 5 years ago

The big news here for me is that VW is going for a Volt-like range of 35-40 miles on electric for their PHEVs, rather than a C-Max Energi or Toyota plug in Prius range of way less.

This is interesting because many analysts reckon that the economics get worse as the EV range increases.

I have never fully believed that myself, as there is a base cost in making the car a plug in to start with, and the incremental cost of more range then drops.

I welcome their decision to use dedicated prismatic lithium batteries rather than wired together 18650's as in the Tesla, as that, although brilliantly implemented, was always something of a kludge.

· David Martin (not verified) · 5 years ago

Assuming that they go for around 60km of EV range, that is around 13,500 miles a year available.
IOW for most all their daily driving will be covered, and the petrol engine will only switch on on long runs.

This is perhaps something of an overkill for European driving patterns, and certainly for those of Japan.

· Objective (not verified) · 5 years ago

"Dr. Krebs said that according to VW’s analysis, a battery electric vehicle carries five times the cost of a conventional internal combustion model. ... VW to produce full-range plug-in hybrid vehicles at the same cost as battery electric cars."

This article quotes a PhD educated VW Chief Officer for Electric Traction saying that battery electric vehicles cost overall 5 times more than conventional, and have severly limited range.

This is precisely what I have been pointing out all along, except that I have outlined all of the supporting evidence.

I told you so.

The most compelling reason for everybody to avoid responding to me... is to avoid having to face the truth... that only fiscal fools would buy and operate today's electric cars, and even then primarily due to the involuntary taxes on the rest of us that pay for this fantasy.

· · 5 years ago

@ Objective (not verified)

"The most compelling reason for everybody to avoid responding to me... is to avoid having to face the truth... that only fiscal fools would buy and operate today's electric cars, and even then primarily due to the involuntary taxes on the rest of us that pay for this fantasy."

Well, I'm not exactly thrilled with the involuntary taxes I pay to support keeping gasoline and oil cheap here in the United States either. Let's make a deal...I'll pay for my BEV or PHEV, without subsidies, when the true and correct cost of oil - to our environment, to the deployment of our military, to the taxpayers - is reflected accurately also. Only fiscal fools would continue to support this dinosaur.

· · 5 years ago

@Objective - how about the involuntary taxes to keep gasoline cheap? We prop up the fossil fuel companies as if they were contributing to a universal human good. When, in fact they're just culling for dollars and polluting as much as possible.

The "free" market is actually more like a government-large corporation consortium, with lots of confusing "infotainment" to give everyone their own slice of reality to cling onto. I by no means think EVs don't also have their corruptions, but as compared to the established fossil fuel (and big automaker) industries, it's peanuts.

· Objective (not verified) · 5 years ago

Whenever I make a point crystal clear, somebody will attempt to put up a smokescreen.

First... oil companies pay taxes.

Second... everybody is dipping their beak in the oil energy pond, whether they admit it or not. How do you think your food is grown? How are all these products you purchase being made and transported? Where are you going when you park your car at the airport charging station? Only a few zealots gain anything from present day EV's, which pay no taxes compared to what they have been showered with in public monies. On top of that, they save no energy at all. They are heavy cars rolling on rubber tires. Saving energy will require getting away from that.

· · 5 years ago

@ Objective

First oil companies pay much less in taxes than us working professionals and this goes to subsidize the gas that we buy. Exxon's tax rate last year was 13%.

Second just because the perfect, universal oil free solution is not there yet, does not
mean we should not try to wean ourselves away from a polluting, non-renewable resource that leads to global political turmoil everywhere. EV owners are at-least
trying to reduce their fossil fuel usage by 50-60% in most cases. We need to start somewhere.

What do you mean by save no energy at all? EVs are much more efficient than pure hybrids even after considering the grid losses in CA.

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 5 years ago


I agree with most of what you said until you said this stupid thing: "On top of that, they save no energy at all"

The average EV and PHEV/EREV in its electric mode is about 1.9x more efficient than a Prius's 50mpg.

Sure, it is expensive, but don't knock their efficiency. As heavy as they are, they are still FAR MORE efficient. ICE is at best around 30%. Electric motors with batteries/controllers are easily in the high 80% range... I am NOT here to demand the source of electricity b/c it can also be changed based on geographical location or the owner. But arguing its efficiency is silly.

· · 5 years ago

@ Objective - You cite the fact that oil companies pay taxes as if this is some qualifier for exemplary corporate citizen status. They should pay taxes. Many of them generate their extremely high profit margins because the U.S. government has priced access to drilling rights on our state and federal lands (emphasis on "our", as in public lands) so cheaply, and agreed to such paltry royalty payments on extracted oil that the oil companies are happy grease the wheels of commerce by paying a negligible tax rate...and even more happy to contribute to support those vying for public office as long as, if elected, those drilling permits and royalty payments stay low. How did I learn about this? I did a little reading about the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon and the subsequent 3 month long oil spill in the Gulf - ever heard of it?

· · 5 years ago

BTW, VW is supporting the new SAE Combo plug, which apparently they are calling the CCS or Combined Charging System:

· · 5 years ago


Dr. Krebs was misqoated concerning EV cost. He probaply had in mind pure EV with same range as ICE vehicles.

My question to Dr. Krebs would be why VW group scraped Audi A1 e-tron with Wankel engine range extender? It was so so promising for electrification fans.

· · 5 years ago

All I can add to this discussion is, talk is cheap, Dr. Krebs, actions speak louder than words. Check back with us after you show no less a committment to electrification than Nissan and GM have done up to now.

· · 5 years ago

@Brian Kariger:

Is this support of the combo plug merely a North American thing by VW? Whenever we are shown European YouTube vids of cars driving around they always have 3 phase charging ports (by having an extra High Current Port visible) and then they always plug in to (for North American Eyes) unrecognizable EVSE's.

I've been trying to find out but the English Language wikipedia has scant info on what is used commonly in Germany? How do I surmise that? Because they put it in their advance advertising.

· · 5 years ago


I'd say GM and Nissan have both shown a pretty large commitment. In another 6 months apparently GM will have at least Volt,caddy ELR, and Spark ev

Nissan supposedly is the world's best selling electric car.

Via Motors is supposedly ready for a relatively large Roll out of initial GM Gliders.

I know we'd like to see them do more, but at least there is some action.

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