By on October 9, 2018

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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42 Comments on “Forget Range – Here’s Volkswagen’s Plan for EV Price Anxiety...”


  • avatar
    seth1065

    one thing o in the USA was Diesels from VW were pretty well loaded vs their gas counterparts which made the price gap smaller then it seems , also VW oil burners had a rep of keeping very good resale value where I doubt VW EV will.

  • avatar
    Groovypippin

    I worry that manufacturers are pushing EV sales before development of the technology really justifies it and that manufacturers that plan on selling them at low prices will sacrifice range and charging times to do so, thus ensuring disastrous resale value. The Nissan Leaf already had to suffer ignominy of having the worst resale value of any vehicle in North America for this very reason.

    I’m taking a “watch Toyota” approach to BEVs. Toyota has a hard-earned reputation for only taking new technology to market when it is fully baked. Their current work on solid state batteries may be the breakthrough the marketplace needs, in terms of energy density and cost. For now they remain playthings for the rich or a good option for multi-vehicle families looking for a commuter car.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      If VW subsidizes EV leases like they do across the rest of their fleet, even if you factor in mileage overages it won’t matter for the new buyer/leasee. I’d imagine most new Leafs are leased for this same reason.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Toyota says they are a decade off on Solid State Batteries. They aren’t leapfrogging anyone.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    If you plan on selling cars in North America/Europe you better have an aggressive EV plan….

    • 0 avatar
      2manycars

      I see no legitimate reason at all for pushing electric cars and do not expect that I will ever own one. I really don’t give a rat’s ass what psychopathic government thugs, control-freak environmentalist scum, or addled young “visionaries” may want.

      • 0 avatar
        Nurburgringer

        Even if I was a climate-change denying, chemtrail theorizing, anti-vaxxing flat earther dimwit I’d still want an EV. They’re just so much better to drive in day-to-day situations than ICE cars, especially those with shifting transmissions vs CVTs. ICEs are fun on the track or, for nostalgia, a twisty road on a weekend drive but for 99% of the driving people do EVs are vastly superior performers.

  • avatar
    vvk

    > Early electric VW buyers will be able to reap the full $7,500 credit before
    > sales push the incentive into oblivion.

    Only if they pay enough federal income tax. Which, at the lower end of the market, is not a given.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Can the Model 3 be leased and if so for how much? Generally speaking EV resale is still in the toilet but the MY18 3s are holding strong near 50. Volt doing better than I figured too.

    MY17 Leaf S

    10/3/18$15,7005,5454.8EL/AGrayLeaseWest CoastSan Francisco Bay
    10/2/18$15,00011,9844.0EL/AWhiteLeaseSouthwestDenver
    10/2/18$16,000*485.0EL/ABlackFactoryWest CoastRiverside
    9/27/18$16,10013,3844.4EL/ABlackLeaseSoutheastAtlanta
    9/18/18$15,20011,1394.5EL/ABrownRegularSouthwestDenver
    9/18/18$15,0004,2694.8EL/A

    MY17 Volt LT

    9/18/18$17,600*29,4222.84H/AWhiteLeaseSoutheastOrlando
    9/18/18$17,20045,5483.24H/ABlackLeaseSoutheastOrlando
    9/12/18$22,1008,4293.94H/ABurgundyRegularNortheastFredericksburg
    9/12/18$22,2508,4184.54H/ABlueLeaseWest CoastSan Francisco Bay
    9/12/18$18,60045,2654.24H/AGrayRegularWest CoastCalifornia

    also who the hell is buying the Cadillac ELR with 78K for $20,2? Think, McFly!

    8/23/18 $20,250 *78,605 4.44 H/A Red Lease West Coast Riverside

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The Model 3 cannot be leased.

      I wouldn’t compare a Volt/ELR with a Leaf, because the former cars can keep going if you keep feeding them gasoline. I don’t even consider them to be ‘electric’, because of that pesky gas cap.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Thanks. I’m not sure what ATP is on the Model 3 but its holding up very well so far. Might actually be the smartest buy at the moment if you can get one for 50ish.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          ATP on the Model 3 is supposedly $60k now, since so many people are getting the dual motor version.

          I prefer the $50k version, but it’s still a bit too high for me.

  • avatar
    Asdf

    I wonder how VW of all companies thought it was a great idea to compare EVs with diesels of all things…

    It doesn’t matter, though, because if VW isn’t able or willing to fulfill some EXTREMELY MODEST requirements such as launching an EV that may be fully charged in no more than five minutes and with a range comparable to that of an ICE-powered car, all without charging a significant premium, then VW’s EVs will be DOA.

  • avatar
    MatadorX

    I just hope they make these suckers in Germany. I doubt Puebla capable of such a complex new platform, nor they would want to risk poisoning their name further with the new tech by manufacturing there, but then again it is VW….

    The new Jetta roll-out was basically a disaster due to every 3rd bumper cover needing a complete respray from an factory process, and that is just now being resolved. They don’t really run a professional operation down there.

    These better still have the 7 year warranty either way. I’d love to see firsthand the initial batch of ’18 ICE cars hit the 6 year/60k wall and completely disintegrate, on VWs dime.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    If these look decent, can get out of their own way (14 second quarter mile please), and offer competitive leases, I might be game. We’ll see how that E-Golf translates to production.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I look forward to seeing these VW EVs with diesel like range that is 30% longer than a gasoline version, and diesel like “refueling” speed of 5 minutes. Perhaps they can even have a diesel like scandal involving dirty batteries or setting up their recharging network with exclusively coal generated electricity.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      EVs have refueling time of about 10 seconds because it takes about 5 seconds to plug in at night and another 5 seconds to unplug in the morning. ICE cars take about 15-30 minutes to refuel because first you need to drive to the closest gas station, which for me is about 15 minutes away. Getting fuel for an ICE car is a stressful and smelly experience. No thanks!

      • 0 avatar
        Asdf

        If what you’re saying weren’t a blatant and dishonest lie, it would have been sufficient to spend 5 seconds to plug in the charger in the morning, and then unplug it right away (which takes 5 additional seconds). In reality, the EV takes SEVERAL HOURS (!) to recharge during the time it’s plugged in.

        • 0 avatar
          vvk

          Several hours during which you are home and don’t need to go anywhere because it is night and you are sleeping. And next morning the “tank” is full again. Unlike an ICE car, which is always empty. Because you don’t have a gas station at home.

          Think about it. Imagine how awesome it would be to never have to worry about looking for fuel, to always have your car full and ready to go every morning.

          • 0 avatar
            2manycars

            What a load of crap. Gas stations are common in most places. It is not necessary to to search for one, just stop at the next convenient location as you drive. (Not to mention that it is not only at night that more fuel is needed, particularly for people who do a lot of driveing.) Additionally, many people live in apartments where they are not able to charge an electric car at night. Internal combustion is the winner, once again.

            I have thought about it, Prince Myshkin, and a little rational thought makes it quite clear that the electric car fanboys are full of excrement.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I think their tagline will actually be “electric vehicles for millions, not millionaires”, which is clever. But it’s a stretch to assume millionaires are the only ones buying $50k Model 3s. If that was the case, the pickup truck market would be pretty small.

    If VW prices their EVs like diesels, they’ll lose money. It’s a pretty misleading claim, however, because their EVs won’t have diesel-like range.

    Besides, the VW Bus-thing they want to produce will certainly have a 100-120 kWh battery, and that’s Model X price territory or above. In the diesel world, maybe priced like a Porsche Cayenne diesel?

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    Electric cars might be useful for city dwellers, but for those of us who actually have to drive long distances daily (and where time is of importance) these vehicles are unappealing.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Time is of importance to city folks as well, and the majority of people who live out of cities can go for 2-3 days on a typical EV’s charge. Plus with home charging your only real concern 99% of the time is daily range. If you can’t charge at home or drive hundreds of miles a day obviously an EV isn’t for you right now.

      • 0 avatar
        ThomasSchiffer

        Sportyacordy,

        I understand what you’re saying, and that was meant to be my point. A typical EV charge can, under ideal conditions, last for a few days (if not a week) in an urban environment.

        On faster roads, however, their battery juice will be depleted rather quickly, and charging simply takes too long (currently).

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      What’s a long distance? I frequently drive 50 miles / 80 km one way, charge while I’m working at my destination, then drive home. I don’t lose any time. If I had a Model 3 long range or performance, I could do the round trip using only home charging without bothering to charge at the destination.

      • 0 avatar
        ThomasSchiffer

        MCS,

        I am based in Munich but drive up to Würzburg generally three times a week and back. Depending which Autobahn I take that’s a distance of 280 or 320 km. And yes, I am a speeder. An electric vehicle would run out of power pretty quickly, and take too long to charge. For these long-distance trips I use my Mercedes GL320 CDI 4Matic from 2007 (soon to be joined by a Skoda Octavia Combi vRS TDI).

        For Munich-based driving I have a beater Renault Twingo from the early 1990s. I generally average 10-14 km with it per day, one way. An electric car would be useful for me in the city, but not for my long-distance trips (low range, long charging times).

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          That’s definitely a long brutal commute and you’d need something like a Model 3 Long Range or even better, a Taycan with the ultra-fast charger. They are expensive options, but it could be done.

          Your commute is extremely unusual. The range killer part is what I’m guessing are extremely high speeds. With those kinds of distances to cover, I don’t blame you. In the US at our lower speeds, long commutes in an EV are definitely possible. I do it myself. I manage to hit 150 kph speeds in brief bursts, but spend most of my time crawling along at an EV friendly speed of less than 65 kph. I can drive forever on a charge at those speeds.

          So what might not work for a long distance commute in Germany might work fine in many parts of the US (although not everywhere).

          • 0 avatar
            ThomasSchiffer

            MCS,

            If there was an electric car with at least 700 or 800 km of realistic range that could be topped up to full charge within 10 minutes, perhaps I may be interested. At the same time, the infrastructure for charging electric vehicles at home is severely lacking, and most of Germany’s electricity is derived from brown coal, which nullifies ‘emission free’ driving hype of electric cars currently available in my country.

            For my long commute I do have the option of the train – however the time schedule is not always ideal, and then there are the various delays which keep popping up. It turns out taking the car is quicker and also cheaper as ticket pricing for trains has become unashamedly expensive.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            EVs are definitely not for you. Your driving habits are not usual, even in the US where we drive more.

            I drive about 640km a week, and am home every night. So 128km a day, give or take. I could easily live with an EV, even without being able to charge at work. For most EV drivers, daily range is all that matters, and EVs are generally able to cover that with a very generous margin.

  • avatar

    VW comparing EV to diesel car doesn’t inspire confidence. Are they going to cheat with EVs too? I think so. Liar is always liar.

  • avatar
    vehic1

    Inside Looking Out: If “liar is always liar” – then how many companies are truly clean? How many companies have made exaggerated fuel mileage claims, dragged feet on safety recalls, etc., over the years?

  • avatar
    vehic1

    Asdf: Tilt at those windmills as long as you wish, but the change is happening already. Most of the world manufacturers are headed there, like it or not.

    • 0 avatar
      riggodeezil

      Yeah, they’re coming. Someone will eventually bring an Every-Goob EV to market and the “future” will finally be here. They’ll have batteries the size of a half-dollar, packing more energy than an atom bomb and with recharge intervals of 30 years. ICEs will be thought about in the same way as bleeding someone with leeches. It’s gonna happen. And I’m glad I’ll be dead when it does.

    • 0 avatar
      Asdf

      Too bad BEV technological development has stagnated and is barely moving at a snail’s pace, then. Maybe there’ll be commercially and technologically viable BEVs by the year 2100… The only change we’re likely to see in the near-term is the bankruptcy of Tesla.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      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.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    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.


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