Volkswagen's New Emperor Of China. And His Electric Dreams

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
volkswagen s new emperor of china and his electric dreams

Karl-Thomas Neumann, Volkswagen’s new Emperor of China, took over his job today. He replaces Winfried Vahland, who now runs Volkswagen’s Skoda division. Neumann has a problem many would like to have. “We can’t build enough cars to meet the demand in China,” Neumann told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Now, if you have nothing to sell, you lose market share, and you really have a problem. Neumann will build. he will build new factories, and …

He will build electric cars. According to Automobilwoche [sub], Volkswagen wants to build all electric cars in China, “as quickly as possible.” That translates into a 2013 start. According to the report, the car will be built in Shanghai, which means a joint venture with SAIC.

Neumann used to be CEO of Continental. While he was waiting for Vahland to clean out his desk, Neumann was biding his time as head of VW’s electric-car division. That makes his electric dreams understandable. He might be in for a rude awakening: Despite lavish government subsidies, the Chinese are shunning electric cars. A bitter lesson BYD had to learn. Hopefully, Neumann has learnt how Volkswagen handles new energies: They talk about it. They are all for it. They show a prototype or two. All the while, they are trying as hard as they can to optimize the ICE.

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  • Akitadog Akitadog on Sep 01, 2010

    He said he wants to BUILD all electric cars there, not necessarily sell them there. I don't blame him. The low cost of labor, plus access to cheap(er) domestically-produced rare earth metals makes for a great electric-car production business case. Then ship 'em out and hike the price.

  • Kristjan Ambroz Kristjan Ambroz on Sep 06, 2010

    Ahhhh, our CEO ;) At least one now knows he did not suffer unduly by leaving Continental :) Now if he would only make sure to equip all of those new vehicles in China with Conti tyres... ;)

  • Stan Soliday Stan Soliday on Sep 08, 2010

    So, if Chinese citizens reject EVs, oil will be used up ( that much more quickly. Then the current 20 million Chinese Ebike and EScooter riders will very likely be joined by electric car drivers, or go broke trying to emulate the west.