By on March 9, 2010

Financial Times calls “Volkswagen a long-time sceptic about hybrid and electric cars.” However, the pink sheet announces that Wolfsburg “has officially shifted gears.” That VW had been a sceptic is an understatement. Despite green initiatives for public and political consumption, internally, they laughed about hybrids and electrics. Their private position was that the consumption and emissions of a hybrid could be achieved with their low displacement supercharged engines and some weight savings. Pure plugins? Ach du mein Lieber. People have their next vacation in mind when they buy a car, and last VW looked, there were no charging stations on the Brenner Pass to Italy.

The official gear shifting occurred at last week’s Geneva motor show, where Volkswagen announced an “unprecedented” drive into electric vehicles.

To underscore the electrical drive, the nearly forgotten Seat brand showed a sporty all-electric “concept” vehicle, the IBE. Porsche showcased the 918 Spyder, a hybrid gasoline-electric concept car that could deliver 78 miles per gallon (not as per EPA) and would help Porsche get around their CAFE problems, if the car finishes on time, and if people buy it. Porsche is hell-bent on building the thing. “Rarely has Porsche shown a prototype that wasn’t built later,” said Porsche chief Michael Macht.

In Geneva, VW’s Winterkorn said that „Volkswagen brings electric cars for everybody. Cars that are friendly to the environment, suitable for everyday use, and affordable.” Germany’s Focus magazine was suprised that Winterkorn “even delivered a timetable.” This year will see hybridized Touaregs, Cayennes, and Audi Q5s, along with a test fleet of pure plug-ins. Next year will bring 5000 electric Golfs, for testing purposes also. In 2012, there will be a hybrid Jetta, and a small series of the pure plug-in Audi e-tron. In 2013, there will be an E-Up, an E-Golf and a E-Jetta. Suzuki will also play its part.

What was lacking in cars was filled with hubris. “Electric cars will be the second load-bearing pillar” of Volkswagen, announced Winterkorn according to Die Zeit. Before the auto show started, Winterkorn announced that “our target is to be market leader of electric cars by 2018.” (Never mind that Daimler announced the same. They can be lucky if they are still around by 2018.)  2018 is the target for everything at Volkswagen. By that year, Volkswagen wants to be the world’s largest auto manufacturer, wants to build and sell more than 10m cars worldwide (that’s more than the U.S.A. consumed last year).

And how many electric cars by 2018? Electric cars, that second load bearing pillar, are budgeted to amount to 3 percent. By 2018. Three percent. Maybe, the skepticism of lore hasn’t been totally expunged yet. Possibly, some electroconvulsive therapy would help? Said to be as beneficial against depression as for mania.

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10 Comments on “Volkswagen’s Elektroshock...”


  • avatar

    Oddly, I can recall reading about a VW hybrid Diesel-Electric car way back in the early 1980s. What struck me then was that it achieved over 110 MPG.

    It was a prototype, and not anywhere near production-ready, but it was also almost THIRTY YEARS AGO! This goes to show once again that Germans are usually way ahead of the curve in terms of bleeding-edge technological research, but always fail to exploit this to their advantage. Hybrids, guided missiles, jet planes, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      As a German I only can agree with your assessment of me being ahead of the curve :-)

      In the mid 1990s they already sold the Audi duo, a Plugin car with gasoline backup (or the other way around) as a regular car to buy 9they only sold a 100, though). however, Management wasn’t as progressive as the engineers, apparently. and killed it. (they decided to waste money and resources on a Phaeton, which isn’t any different than other cars and loses money)

  • avatar
    paradigm_shift

    Just cause I know alot of people won’t bother to look it up:

    Ach du mein Lieber = Oh dear

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Plenty of wind atop the Brenner … maybe VW needs to mount little wind-turbines atop these cars too!

      BTW, “A.d.m.l.” is:
      - One step down from: “Ach du mein lieber Gott!” ~ Holy shit!
      - Two steps down from: “Herrgotsack!!” ~ Double holy shit!

  • avatar
    jmo

    Continued oil demand from China and India, perhapse a violent islamist revolution in Saudia Arabia and we have electrics representing far more than 3% by 2018. Allways best to have a few things in the pipline just in case.

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    “Next year will bring 5000 electric Golfs, for testing purposes also.”

    Will they be the ‘cart’ model ?

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    Toyota have made hybrids that are totally reliable. Who would trust a European manufacturer to do the same thing ? As for pure electric cars , they are environmentally unsound.The emissions are shifted from the tailpipe to the power station .You can’t save the planet that way.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I’ve heard about VW and their diesel electric prototypes as well, but never read anything about it until now. Popular Science now has all their magazines online through Google Books and the link below has some content from 1990 about a hybrid Golf that could get 95 MPG. Not bad for 1990!

    http://www.popsci.com/archive-viewer?id=mAEAAAAAMBAJ&pg=30&query=hybrid+diesel

    I’m surprised VW is actually getting into hybrids, but I think they kind of have to for the U.S. market at least. But 3% of sales is a pretty low number.

    • 0 avatar
      Tricky Dicky

      3% was for BEVs, not for hybrids. AFAIK they haven’t published a sales target for hybrids. Given that the Touareg HV is going to be priced 38% higher than the diesel equivalent here in Europe, it doesn’t seem to me like it’s of great strategic importance to them. I think they just want to support their environmental image by saying “jah, ve hav zem too!”

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    My new audi has sophisticated electric mgt, it turns off electric functions with declining voltage (i.e. failiure) to keep things running till you get it fixed. I wondered why they would do this but it looks like its part of electification overall.


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