By on July 21, 2010

When you think Volkswagen and alternative powertrains, only one kind of springs to mind, and it’s no very alternative. Diesel. They are pretty good at it in Wolfsburg. But these days it isn’t enough. Nowadays, we have E85, fuel cells, hybrids, more efficient petrol engines and many more. Volkswagen can’t afford to bet their future on Diesel. So where do they go from here? I hear California is quite nice…?

Mercury News reports that Volkswagen is expanding their Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) in Palo Alto, California. They’re moving to a 157,000 square foot office (up from 40,000) and are expanding their workforce from 40 to 65, with a forecast to exceed 100. The justification for this expansion is that they’ll need more space for prototypes. Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen AG CEO, visited Palo Alto and declared that he wants Volkswagen to be the top electric carmaker by 2018 (something else was supposed to happen in 2018, what was that again…?) and will start launching electric cars in 2013 (more about that later). “We want to conquer the market for electric cars,” Winterkorn said. Conquering the car market not enough? No, they also want to rule the electric world. Winterkorn then went on to call the laboratory in Palo Alto a “powerhouse for the car of tomorrow”. Someone’s got big plans!

Speaking of Herr Winterkorn’s plans: 2013 will mark the year VW will launch their assault on the alternative fuels scene. The Telegraph reports the Up! (or Lupo, as it’s now called) or the Golf will be launched as an all electric vehicle in the US by 2013. The Touareg will have a petrol-hybrid powertrain, followed by the Jetta. Martin Winterkorn wants low-carbon car to account for 3 percent of Volkswagen’s sale by (you guessed it) 2018. “Our goal is clear and ambitious,” said Herr Winterkorn at their Palo Alto facilities, “Volkswagen will be the automaker to mass produce the electric car for everyone.” More big words! With Honda announcing that they will throw their hat into the electric car arena, GM ramping up their Volt, Nissan touting their leaf, Ford readying their electric Focus and Toyota set to unleash their Tesla derived electric cars onto the market, Herr Winterkorn could be eating his words. But lest we forget, when Volkswagen announced that by 2018 they’ll be the biggest car maker in the world, many people wet themselves laughing. Now, they’re within spitting distance of GM and Toyota and, now, no-one is laughing.

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10 Comments on “Volkswagen Wants To Rule The Electric World As Well...”

  • avatar

    With VW’s infamous electrical gremlins, there are going to be a lot of expensive boat anchors parked in driveways. That is until people wise up and stop buying all-electric VWs. And this statement comes from a VW TDI driver/fan. Stick to making ICE engines more efficient, VW.

  • avatar

    What? Really?

    Maybe they should put the money and research into quality & reliability before they jump onto the electric bandwagon.

    -former owner of 2 vw’s

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Watching the lemmings go over the cliff has its amusing moments.

  • avatar

    Regarding diesel: “But these days it isn’t enough.”

    I disagree. VW has a great niche with their diesel, and could do much more with it. A me-too electric will only dilute their lofty quest for world domination.

    And as brettc says, I wouldn’t trust VW electronics, having personally experienced several unresolved gremlins in my former Passat.

  • avatar
    Dr Strangelove

    Love the “blue emotion” sign in the back. Feeling blue much, Martin?

    • 0 avatar

      In Europe, blue represents the same thing as green here in the states with respect to environmental warm fuzzies –

      And +1 on VW’s electrical gremlins, I have a Passat TDI, love the drivetrain, hate the rest of the car! One never knows when the power windows will work. Or not. Sucks to get to a shopping mall and the windows won’t go up. Won’t even discuss the crappy window regulators and door latch mechanisms (oops!) . . .

  • avatar

    I’ve owned several VW’s (’81 Rabbit, 84 Scirocco, 99 Mk4 Golf GLS). They all had their problems. The Rabbit went through CV joints bi-yearly and never failed to strand me every winter I owned it. The Scirocco was insanely costly to repair and still holds the records for most tickets I ever got in one car. The MkIV Golf had the notorious power window regulator issues and a mysterious short that fried something in the ECU costing well over a grand to fix. Still, they were all great driving cars and the newer models always seemed significantly improved over the older ones. They all had “it”…whatever you call it…Fahrvergnügen? It’s for real. The overall driving experience is just great and always keeps me coming back for more. I just traded the Golf in for a 2010 Golf TDI and couldn’t be happier. I’m betting VW’s been listening to complaints and that in time this latest generation of cars will prove to be their most reliable yet. But perhaps that’s not saying much…time will tell.

  • avatar

    This time ve hope the Schlieffen will work.

    But with the not so favorable comments, is going to be a real uphill battle.

    • 0 avatar

      Schlieffen’s last words were “remember to keep the right flank strong.”

      For the history challenged. (I can’t help it, I’m a history teacher at heart.)

  • avatar
    Tricky Dicky

    Yet VW have been saying for about a year now that their combined hybrid and EV sales will only amount to 3% of their sales by the magic year 2018. Can’t help but think that their hearts aren’t really in it…

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