Forget Range - Here's Volkswagen's Plan for EV Price Anxiety

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
forget range heres volkswagens plan for ev price anxiety

Tesla deserves credit for building useable, long-range electric cars, but shares a good deal of the blame for causing the public to associate EV driving with the expenditure of one’s retirement savings. Fledgling technologies carry a steep price in the early days, and other automakers weren’t immune from this reality. A base 2011 Nissan Leaf cost $32,780 before destination and federal incentives and offered 73 miles of range. A 2018 model retails for $29,990 and offers 151 miles.

Volkswagen, currently planning a massive electric vehicle assault on the Western world, knows the price gap between ICE cars and EVs is a major impediment to adoption. That’s why it’s couching its pricing strategy in terms buyers will understand.

An EV is like a diesel.

That’s what Thomas Ulbrich, head of VW’s electric mobility division, wants consumers to know. Now, this lesson might be more familiar to European buyers, and that’s indeed where Ulbrich was speaking during an event late last month.

As it prepares to sink billions into the development and production of MEB-based electric vehicles over the coming years, VW’s strategy is one of approachability. Electric vehicles needn’t be playthings of the rich. That’s why it’s spreading the message that buying an I.D.-badged vehicle will require a markup no different than that of a diesel-powered car.

“And then we are sure we can convince millions, because then it is no longer a price range for special customers,” Ulbrich said.

By 2025, the automaker hopes to sell 3 million EVs per year, scattered over its many brands. The first wave alone, Ulbrich said, will include 10 million MEB-platform vehicles. He didn’t say when this wave is expected to end, however, making that lofty number less than compelling. The first year of production (expected to kick off in late 2019) will see the construction of 100,000 EVs, VW predicts.

But back to that pricing. As Green Car Reports lays out, Ulbrich’s pricing strategy, if true to the letter, would see EV MSRPs positioned 17 to 25 percent higher than a comparative gasoline-powered model. That’s based on U.S. retail pricing of the last VW diesels offered in North America.

Helping VW’s U.S. push is a federal tax credit that VW’s barely used, at least when compared to GM, Tesla, or Nissan. Early electric VW buyers will be able to reap the full $7,500 credit before sales push the incentive into oblivion.

[Image: Volkswagen Group]

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  • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Oct 09, 2018

    Well I have a friend who will only buy electrics and diesels because he is a torque addict. He's had a number of TDI's but got out before the scandal broke to go to a couple of Volts before going to an i3. However the plan is to replace the i3 with one of the last 5 series diesels.

    • HotPotato HotPotato on Oct 10, 2018

      Ah, torque! If Buick can promptly bring us the hi-lux new Velite that Chinese auto show attendees have been drooling over, your buddy might be able to go full EV again. I'm wondering if that's what GM plans to replace the Volt with in 2020--I hope they have a plan B if so, because I imagine that would have to be like a 50% jump in MSRP over a base Volt.

  • Tele Vision Tele Vision on Oct 09, 2018

    Sun Belt candy. They won't work at where I need to get to so I'll keep exulting in the sound of money exploding.

  • Xidex i haven't even turned the dial to AM since the 90's I think at that time it was only because there is one station i liked was on the AM dial (it is no longer around) Someone had to point to the station otherwise i wouldn't have even scanned the AM dial. I still think the AM dial should be left on radios though, If no one listened to it then there wouldn't be any stations would there.
  • Kwik_Shift I have five AM stations preset, each different from one another in terms of content. Some politics, some day to day, some do it yourselfing or help. Focus is more on local news and events. FM is just about pushing crap music and djs pushing the MSM message for their corporate overlords. FM is about making radio sound exactly the same all over North America. I like ONE FM station that plays different varieties of country music and has an entertaining dj. Overall, to each their own.
  • Kat Laneaux What's the benefits of this as opposed to the Ford or Nissan. Will the mileage be better than the 19 city, 24 hwy? Will it cost less than the average of $60,000? Will it be a hybrid?
  • Johnster Minor quibble. The down-sized full-sized 1980-only Continental (which was available with Town Car and Town Coupe trims) gave up its name in 1981 and became the Town Car. The name "Town Coupe" was never used after the 1980 model year. The 1981 Lincoln Town Car was available with a 2-door body style, but the 2-door Lincoln Town Car was discontinued and not offered for the 1982 model year and never returned to the Lincoln lineup.
  • Zipper69 Some discreet dwebadging and this will pass for a $95k Lucid Air...