You Can't Blame Volkswagen for Trying

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
you cant blame volkswagen for trying

On Tuesday, Volkswagen announced its plan to assemble 600,000 electric vehicles utilizing the brand’s MEB platform at two plants in China. The facilities, said to be located in the cities of Anting and Foshan, will help bolster EV volume after the completion of VW’s Zwickau plant in Germany — which the company previously claimed would manufacture 330,000 cars annually.

While that facility is nearing completion and supposed to be up and running before 2020, there’s no firm timeline in place for China. But that’s the least of the issues Volkswagen must solve in order to make this dream a reality.

On the same day as the factory announcement, VW also doubled its previous estimate of the number of battery cells it would have to acquire to become the world’s leader in electrification. The company now believes it will need to source more than 300 gigawatt hours of annual supply in 2025 just to support Europe and Asia. However, this has as much to do with a new mandate from the European Union (which requires automakers to reduce CO2 emissions by 37.5 percent by 2030, vs 2021 levels) as it does Volkswagen’s own ambitions.

Unlike the United States, where discussions are still ongoing, officials in Europe and China have basically decided that the internal combustion engine has to go. This seems to suit the modern-day version of VW Group just fine. VW’s supervisory board already agreed to build a 1 billion euro ($1.12 billion) battery plant in Salzgitter, Germany, not far from the Zwickau plant, on Monday. The facility will be a joint operation between VW and Swedish partner Northvolt, with a completion date of 2022.

“Volkswagen leads the competition on e-mobility,” CEO Herbert Diess said at the company’s annual meeting in Berlin. “As a company we’ll make a success of the electric car — with the right products, superior underpinnings and global economies of scale.”

According to Automotive News, Volkswagen doesn’t intend to stop here, and is already considering sites for additional EV factories. While this unquestionably proves the firm’s commitment to electrification, it could easily spark anxiety. Numerous media outlets are framing this as VW’s push to surpass Tesla. And yet VW’s first ground-up electric car hasn’t seen the same kind of enthusiasm as product born of the American outfit.

Thus far, Volkswagen’s ID3 hatchback has amassed more than 15,000 pre-orders from customers putting down 1,000-euro deposits. Meanwhile, Tesla’s Model 3 averaged 1,800 new orders a day in its introductory year and is presently trying to expand in both Europe and Asia. All told, Volkswagen intends to spend 30 billion euros ($34 billion) to surpass Tesla as the world’s biggest electric-vehicle manufacturer. For its sake, we hope the effort pays off.

[Image: Volkswagen]

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  • Whatnext Whatnext on May 15, 2019

    Given the slow tickle of e-Golfs Volkswagen is able to get to areas of high demand, I take all this with a grain of salt.

  • Conundrum Conundrum on May 15, 2019

    China had been saying for years it wanted to be the Number One source for LiON batteries. No one paid them the least attention as they inked up contracts on cobalt and lithium worldwide. Except Tesla. Also China itself is the source of rare-earth minerals for permanent magnets and doles these out sparingly to the West. So here we are with the average car manufacturer a day late and a dollar short as usual, and people wonder why EVs are gong to made in huge quantities in China. Because they can make the batteries that's why, while the chickens run around with their heads cut off in the EU looking for supply. Tesla got this part right. Now we can watch the others squirm.

    • See 2 previous
    • Thx_zetec Thx_zetec on May 18, 2019

      @TMA1 You are right about the first four, but not number 5. Starbucks =Luckin soon. China always supports the local company. Google maps works anywhere, except . . . hmm. Uber anywhere except hmmm. Tesla, and VW and all other non-Chinese companies will not be allowed to succeed in the long run.

  • SCE to AUX I charge at home 99% of the time, on a Level 2 charger I installed myself in 2012 for my Leaf. My house is 1967, 150-Amp service, gas dryer and furnace; everything else is electric with no problems. I switched from gas HW to electric HW last year, when my 18-year-old tank finally failed.I charge at a for-pay station maybe a couple times a year.I don't travel more than an hour each way in my Ioniq 1 EV, so I don't deal much with public chargers. Despite a big electric rate increase this year, my car remains ridiculously cheap to operate.
  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.