By on August 5, 2016


Forget the American displacement wars of the 1960s (and to a lesser degree, the 1990s). On the other side of the Atlantic, it’s all about who has the biggest all-electric lineup.

Volkswagen, hoping to wash its hands of diesel residue, announced three modular vehicle platforms that could spawn 30 electric vehicles across the company’s brand portfolio. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz wants a whole new sub-brand for its looming crop of EVs.

Volkswagen fleshed out its long-term “Strategy 2025” plan during a seminar in Michigan on Wednesday. According to Automotive News, the company wants three versatile platforms to underpin all future EV models.

Matthias Erb, the automaker’s chief engineering officer for North America, said each modular platform will feature different wheelbases and track widths. This means Volkswagen Group will be able to slot an EV anywhere it wants in a brand’s lineup.

Is there demand for such vehicles? That’s hard to gauge. Price and battery range are the biggest factors, but current and future regulations play a role. Still, under the U.S. diesel scandal settlement, VW must spend $2 billion on zero emission vehicle development. So, this is happening, regardless of demand.

In January, the automaker unveiled its Budd-e electric van concept at the Consumer Electronics Show. That vehicle rode atop one of the new platforms, and boasts 233 miles of range on the EPA cycle.

Over at Mercedes-Benz, executives are busy mulling new brand names. Sources familiar with the automaker’s plans tell Bloomberg that four all-new EVs — two SUVs and two sedans — will be sold under a new electric sub-brand. You can bet there’ll be an “e” in the name once the company makes up its mind.

The first vehicle should appear at this fall’s Paris Motor Show. While rival VW no doubt has plans for a plebian electric, Mercedes-Benz plans to chase the high-end of the market. That means it wants to take Tesla down a peg. (The American electric car builder dominates luxury vehicle sales in western Europe, especially in the high-tax Nordic countries.)

Bloomberg’s sources claim that the new sub-brand will be in place, and its vehicles on sale, before the end of the decade.

[Image: Daimler AG]

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20 Comments on “German Automakers Plan an EV-Measuring Contest, While Mercedes-Benz Goes Looking for a Name...”

  • avatar

    Mercedes could name this new EV brand the “ME2.” It would have an “e” in it…

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Given a choice between a Budd e-van and a Budd-e van, I’d take the former and polish the eff out of it. Fluted stainless steel ftw.

  • avatar

    “Is there demand for such vehicles?”

    There is demand coming from German regulators.

    All new cars registered in Germany need to be emissions free by 2030 at the latest to help meet pollution reduction goals, a senior government official said.

    Germany’s pledge to cut carbon dioxide output by 80 percent to 95 percent by 2050 will be in jeopardy unless the country radically reduces transportation pollution, said Deputy Economy Minister Rainer Baake. Since cars typically have a 20-year lifespan, registrations of new diesel and gasoline cars needs to be cut over the next 15 years, he said.

    • 0 avatar

      This is how modern democracies work.

    • 0 avatar

      “Germany’s pledge to cut carbon dioxide by 80 to 95 percent by 2050 will be in jeopardy unless the country radically reduces transportation pollution.”

      So says Deputy Economy Minister Rainer Baake.

      Why quote a completely nonsensical statement? German electricity largely is and is going to increasingly be generated by burning lignite, a low grade coal that pretty much maxes CO2 emissions.

      Does Baake’s calculator tell him that the ridiculous promises made about CO2 emissions can only be achieved by eliminating most vehicle emissions? Only if the electricity needed by these EV’s is generated by Pixie Dust.

      • 0 avatar

        We pledge to reduce the 3% of CO2 generated by automobiles by forcing a private industry to spend billions to come up with something better (instead of billions on better power systems).

        PS Watch out for axes on the train.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t know why you feel compelled to tell these lies. “The share of electricity produced from renewable energy in Germany has increased from 6.3 percent of the national total in 2000 to over 25 percent in the first half of 2012” – Wikipedia.

        • 0 avatar

          @ VoGo

          Liar, liar pants on fire.

          In fact, 45% of German electricity is generated using coal and lignite. Another 3% comes from biomass. All of these max out CO2 emissions.

          For the future, nuclear is being phased out. Germany is giving the middle finger salute to those who think CO2 emissions are bad.

          Maybe, having the German taxpayer subsidizing development of EV’s for export markets is only fair.

          Who are you pimping for with your slanted “analysis” and comments?

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t misunderstand the article. Baake (who is a member of the Green party, which holds only 10% of the seats in the parliament) is saying that this has to happen in order for the targets to be hit. He isn’t saying that the law currently requires them to do it.

      If you keep reading the article, you’ll see more about Germany’s EV mandates. The automakers probably don’t expect all internal combustion to be banned, but they almost certainly are expecting some combination of EV mandates and incentives.

  • avatar

    How about Utopian Turtletop?

  • avatar

    Mercedes has been collaborating with Nissan lately, so I wouldn’t be surprised the see the Nissan SOFC make an appearance in a Mercedes-Benz. The technology with the best chance of sending the ICE to an early grave is the SOFC.

    There was research into gasoline-fueled SOFCs. I’m not sure how much progress they’ve made, but it would be the killer technology if someone was able to get it into production. A plug-in EV with a gasoline SOFC range extender would be a perfect replacement for an ICE car.

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