Volkswagen CEO Says Europe Should Take Electric Car Leadership Position

1 year ago by Mark Kane 42

Volkswagen Tiguan GTE Active Concept

Volkswagen Tiguan GTE Active Concept

Volkswagen Cars Led By Plug-Ins

Volkswagen Cars Led By Plug-Ins

Volkswagen, who for years was lagging behind the electric vehicle leaders, recently issued a press release (a feat for which the company has no equal) titled “Europe Needs to Lead with Electric Mobility“. It’s worth a read:

The Volkswagen Group wants industrial companies and policy makers to work more closely on the future of mobility in the EU. Europe needs to take the technological lead in future areas of the automotive sector and work with policy makers to create the necessary framework conditions, demands Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller at the company’s traditional New Year reception in Brussels. Whether digitization, autonomous driving or electric mobility – Europe should set the course “also in terms of infrastructure and the right legislative framework,” Müller told the numerous honorary guests and EU parliamentarians. “We must not leave this playing field to Silicon Valley.”

The Volkswagen Group wants policy makers and the automotive industry to cooperate more closely on digital transformation and electric mobility. “The efforts of our industry alone won’t be enough. We need to work together to make sure that Europe remains innovative and competitive as an industrial location in a rapidly changing world,” Müller emphasized in his speech. “A true breakthrough for electric mobility will only be achieved if politics, society and authorities work together more closely.” He used the lack of infrastructure as an example: Europe desperately needs an extensive network of 150 kW rapid charging stations. Customer trust in e-mobility will only grow “if there is a visible, functioning infrastructure,” said Müller convinced.”

Audi e-tron quattro concept - charging inlet CCS Combo

Audi e-tron quattro concept – charging inlet CCS Combo

There is only one volume electric car maker in California that sells EVs in Europe, so we understand that Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller had Tesla Motors on his mind.

Volkswagen for sure isn’t happy with Tesla Motors’ position and achievements in luxury sedans.

And here comes the second part on 150 kW fast charging infrastructure, stated to be needed to make long-range EVs capable of traveling cross countries. Tesla set its own 120 kW network, but it now seems as though Volkswagen Group intends to get help for CCS Combo from the European Union.

We could bet that the coming years probably will bring new infrastructure programs with 150 kW CCS Combo funded at least partially by the EU, but we do wonder whether there will be CHAdeMO included in the mix as well (and at what power level) and how Tesla (and others – maybe Apple) will respond.

A similar topic is on the table in the U.S., where a decent high-power fast charging network for non-Tesla long-range EVs is also needed. Anyone eager to soften the bill for chargers voluntarily?

“The CEO promised that Volkswagen would concentrate on sustainability “more than ever before” and that would include the company’s products, strategy and management. He will present the new Strategy 2025 for the Group this summer. Among other things, the company’s brands will introduce about 20 additional models with electrical or plug-in hybrid drive trains by 2020, announced the CEO.

When looking at the emissions issue of the past few weeks, Müller explained to the EU parliamentarians in Brussels: “We are using the current crisis to fundamentally realign the Group. I strongly feel we now have the chance to build a new and better Volkswagen.”

The CEO emphasized that Europe’s largest automobile manufacturer would have the emission values of its vehicles checked and certified by external and independent inspectors in the future. The company vehicles will also be tested randomly under real driving conditions, Müller went on to explain: “We hope this will help to win back trust.”

He was convinced: “The industry-wide discrepancies between the official test results and actual consumption are no longer accepted and no longer acceptable. We need to break new ground here.”

The CEO stated that EU-wide, comprehensive technical solutions for the approximately 8.5 million vehicles have been agreed. The retrofitting will start this week. Customers can rely on Volkswagen, emphasized Müller in Brussels: “We will manage the recall in the most customer friendly and best possible way.”

The Volkswagen Group has twelve brands from seven European countries. Volkswagen has more than 440,000 employees at 72 locations in Europe. The Group is the largest industrial investor in many EU countries. Müller emphasized that Volkswagen remains dedicated to Europe as a development and production location: “Volkswagen believes in Europe. And I see it as our and my core duty to make sure that Europe can trust Volkswagen in the future.”

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42 responses to "Volkswagen CEO Says Europe Should Take Electric Car Leadership Position"

  1. kdawg says:

    Wow, how far we’ve come in just a few years. We are now at a point where one of the world’s largest automakers is saying we need nationwide 150kW chargers.

    1. KUD says:

      Make that a few Months. The fallout of Dieselgate and Tesla.

      1. Bone says:

        150 kW CCS plans were set out before dieselgate.

        1. Bob says:

          Really? Have you seen one in the field?
          Which car sold today can benefit from such chargers?

          Thanks

          Bob

          1. Mikael says:

            Do you know what a plan is?

            If there is a car out there that could use 150 kW yet is totally irrelevant. There will be lots of cars like that and then of course you need to look at the infrastructure.

  2. vdiv says:

    VW is like Europe’s GM. They say the obvious things (need to make EVs, install charging infrastructure) and then do nothing about them. The hypocrisy is their expertise and the mentality that instead of competing with Tesla and making compelling EVs they should rather kill it runs amok.

    These guys should be cut dry, no more leniency, no more benefits, no more incentives until they are serious about plugin cars and every model they make has a plug.

    Yeah, as if that will happen!

    1. Yup says:

      Make that “like Europe’s Toyota” because they talk big about future technologies but then don’t do anything. GM is one of the two leading mass-market companies pushing EVs and PHEVs.

    2. Automotive Industry says:

      At least the VAG was the 3d best selling automotive group when it comes to plug-ins. Just slightly behind BYD and with more sales than Tesla. I know that doesn’t mean that much since Tesla is relatively small and lacks the funds to develop as many cars as VAG, as well as that they only had one model for sale. But they are a lot better than GM. Which doesn’t even rank in the top 10. I know we all like the Volt and the Bolt and some even the Spark, but designing plug ins isn’t the same as selling them. And GM really lacks in the marketing department.

  3. It’s the planned on ‘TP’ factor! That is,’Tesla Pressure’, being the pressure from loss of sales to Tesla Motors, and the continuing of so much positive press on Tesla, while VW gets so much negative press!

    And they now realize they better get their EV act together, or loose even more to Tesla, and maybe even to Nissan/Chevy/Renault and maybe BMW.

  4. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    VW is, after years of foot-dragging, finally paying a lot of lip service to the EV revolution.

    Now let’s see them actually do something to help make it happen.

    1. SJC says:

      Concepts are not going to get them there, actual models that sell in volume might.

  5. super390 says:

    VW is basically saying that it is willing to abandon its diesels if it gets a bailout from the governments to convert to EVs. Of course these infrastructure investments, etc. will benefit other manufacturers as well, but VW is the one that needs most badly to get someone to pay for a clean sheet revamp of the auto market and make everyone forget the scandal.

  6. Anon says:

    Sounds like VW wants government money to help them make these EV dreams of theirs, a reality– while at the same time, trying to justify their continued existence to legislators, lawyers and judges.

    “Please don’t fine us into oblivion! We’ve changed!!! Really!!!”

    Hopefully, those that wrote the 150 kW DCFC PR bit, knows you need to build vehicles that can actually utilize that level of battery power…

    1. ffbj says:

      Contrite is the criminal caught.

    2. Braben says:

      Not sure what you are trying to say here. Neither Tesla nor GM would exist today without government money (while VW has never needed a government bailout in its 60 year history).And EV sales would be even more anemic without the massive tax incentives in countries like the US and Norway.

      1. Anon says:

        I’m saying VW is trying to cover increasing global loses from a decade of selling cheating diesels, using greenwashed EV PR.

        1. Braben says:

          Of course they are trying to regain a better public image. What do you suggest they should do? Fire their 600,000 employees and close shop?

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Braben said:

        “Neither Tesla nor GM would exist today without government money…”

        Tesla made its first car, the Roadster, with no government loan. They needed a sizable DOE loan to put the Model S into production, but it’s entirely possible Tesla would still exist as a niche boutique auto maker without that. In fact, it’s even possible that Tesla could have gone thru an IPO for funding Model S production, and avoided the government loan altogether.

        However, there is little if any doubt that Tesla has been able to grow much faster due to that loan.

    3. Daniel says:

      As far is 150 kilowatt power goes to charge evs there’s no harm in future proofing the system a little bit. the cars that can utilize that don’t exist today but what about 3 years from now five years from now?

  7. SparkEV says:

    150kW is great for 60 kWh car. Assuming no taper to 80%, that will give 80% charge in 20 minutes. Since VW doesn’t have any such car that’ll benefit from 150kW charging power, especially non-cooled battery eGolf, I don’t know what he’s talking about.

    But Bolt will have 60 kWh battery and active cooled and will benefit from 150kW. Yet GM doesn’t even talk about 150kW?

  8. Tech01x says:

    Tesla Superchargers are 135 kW now. They are modular, built with a stack of the same AC -> DC chargers in the Model S’s and the wiring is known to work at 370 amps, so they could easily upgraded to 400 volts x 370 amps = 148 kW.

    1. crossie says:

      Most of them are still 120kW, some stalls are only 90kW. All the new supercharger locations being built out in europe are 135kW… but many old stalls are still there.

      1. Nix says:

        FYI — The supercharges are modular in design, so the difference between lower power and higher power Superchargers is the number of modular charger units inside.

        Old lower power chargers could in theory be upgraded in the future by simply adding additional modules inside, and flashing the programming.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few years we see upgrades to existing units.

  9. PaulG says:

    Considering the $1300 I was just charged for getting my engine cleaned of carbon build up, yes, definitely.

    1. ffbj says:

      Carbon on the valves? Next time I suggest using Sea Foam, works great and cost like $6.

      Now I am not saying that your problem would have been solved so easily, but it is an amazing product. It keeps my old ’89 Toyota running.
      http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=a+new+leaf+%2fcarbon+on+the+valves&view=detail&mid=E6188559ACC2CB8572BAE6188559ACC2CB8572BA&FORM=VIRE2

      1. PaulG says:

        Thanks for the tip FFBJ!

      2. Nix says:

        That stuff indeed works great for any vehicle that injects fuel into the air before the air goes past the intake valves (after the air passes the MAF or MAP sensor).

        The problem with some new direct injection engines (like Audi’s) is that the fuel is injected directly into the engine after the intake valves, so you can’t add anything into the fuel in order to clean the valves. And Sea Foam is NOT safe for spraying on MAF sensors, meaning you can’t just spray it into the air intake. So it can be very hard on some cars to introduce Sea Foam into the airflow after the MAF sensor.

        From the Sea Foam website:
        “~Always apply spray downstream from mass air flow sensor.~”

        1. Nix says:

          Also, too much Sea Foam, too fast with the engine RPM’s too low can also lead to incomplete burn. That is bad, because it can ruin oxygen sensors.

          With the RPM’s at around 1,700-2,000, slowly spray into the airflow after the MAF sensor.

          1. ffbj says:

            Good point. Since I have an old car I did not know that. I also like Marvel’s Mystery Oil.

            1. ffbj says:

              I meant to say I did not know about your 1st comment, not the one about keeping the rpm’s up. You just have to feather the throttle, so the engine does not choke.

      3. Anon says:

        Yeah, he got majorly ripped off!!! Sea Foam is amazing.

  10. Nix says:

    “We must not leave this playing field to Silicon Valley.”

    That’s not the real threat. China is going to bury the rest of the world the rate they are growing. The US is so busy with one political party doing everything possible to bury anything green, that we are going to be lucky to keep the green car sales numbers from shrinking.

    1. Braben says:

      Note that he was not only talking about electric drive trains, but also “digitization” and autonomous vehicles. They are probably more concerned about Google and Apple rather than BYD or Tesla.

  11. Mister G says:

    More VW talk…where’s your 200 mile EV for $35,000?

  12. ModernMarvelFan says:

    150kW?

    Well, we need current and voltage specs.

    800V/187.5A system would be “useless” for most BEVs as their battery voltage is only about 400V.

    What we need is 300A-400A system that can power all BEVs…

    1. SparkEV says:

      Most current crop of EV won’t benefit from 150kW even at 300A, considering the taper even with 50kW to 80% (except SparkEV, of course). However, 150kW could be designed to accommodate single 150kW or multiple 50kW, or even 25kW. Then the pricing could be high for 150kW low for 25kW.

      But it’s all wishful thinking. I doubt VW changed their ways so quickly.

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        Bolt with 60kWh battery can certainly use 150kW charging system…

        Up 80% in 25 minutes is nice to have…

  13. jmac says:

    The first thing the CEO of Volkswagen needs to do is call up the Premier of China and ask Mr. Li if it’s okay for VW to become the world leader in EVs.

    There seems to be a definite commitment to EVs from the top down in China with state sponsored incentives for the consumer. The Germans on the other hand have few or even zero EV purchase incentives. The government seems paralyzed and unable to act. China is far ahead here.

    On top of that, I’m afraid that diesel fuel, not real blood flows in the veins of every patriotic German. After all, Rudolf Diesel invented the diesel engine. Gotleib Daimler, Nikolaus Otto and Karl Benz together claim to have perfected the first practical ICE for the horseless carriage. And the Germans love to say it was they who invented the first practical automobile.

    Knowing this, it is very unlikely the Germans will just suddenly drop their beloved ICE and diesels to go chase after electric cars. I doubt it. They will no doubt transfer their allegience to EVs very reluctantly, loudly protesting all the way as they hang on for dear life to an exhaust manifold in one hand and a piston in the other.

    I’m afraid the only time Volkswagen will ever see world wide electric car dominance is in the rear view mirror of the Chinese.

    1. ModernMarvelFan says:

      “Premier of China and ask Mr. Li ”

      Is Mr. Li (premier) in charge or is Mr. Xi (President) in charge?

  14. jmac says:

    ModernMarvelFan

    Xi is President and Li is Premier. According to Wiki, the position of Premier is roughly equivalent to Secretary of State. As President, Xi Jiaoping is without doubt the guy that hires and fires and steers the ship.

    The Germans have seemed lukewarm or even negative towards EVs in the recent past. China, by contrast, is a command economy and is gung-ho for EVs, “and that’s an order.”

    1. Mister G says:

      The Chinese have no other option due to severe air pollution, unfortunately, America’s air pollution needs to become severe for Americans to trade in gas guzzling toxic poison machines.

  15. Rick Danger says:

    One of the Tesla bashers repeated put downs of the Supercharger networks is “Nah! Tesla has done nothing special. (insert legacy automaker here) could build that out in a WEEK! Using the money they spend on COFFEE in the break rooms!
    So… little bitty Tesla not only makes cars with batteries capable of charging at high speed, they also have built out the world’s largest network of fast chargers, all by themselves, while all the “majors” are still whining and crying for help in building out nationwide charging networks.
    I have no sympathy for any of them.