More Long-Range EVs On the Way, From Volkswagen and Ford

By · August 19, 2016

Volkswagen will introduce a new electric car—about the size of the Golf and able to go more than 200 miles on a single charge—by 2019. The company will show a near-production version of the EV at the upcoming Paris Motor Show in October. VW executives, speaking this week with Wirtschaftswoche, a German business magazine, also reiterated that the company will offer a range of pure battery-electric cars, from a small coupe to a crossover SUV, in the coming years.

Volkswagen previously announced plans to launch 30 new EVs by 2025, as well as new conventional hybrids and plug-in hybrids. That will make for a crowded field of electric cars, many of which are likely to provide a driving range of 200 miles or more. The Chevy Bolt, the first of the 200-mile EVs, is expected later this year, followed by the Tesla Model 3 and a next-generation Nissan LEAF (that is likely to compete on range).

Tesla was planning to use the name “Model E” for its so-called affordable small long-range EV—but that name had already been secured by Ford. According to a new report in Automotive News, Ford is planning to launch its own 200-plus-mile electric car in early 2019. The trade publication said that the EV would be assembled in Mexico. Automotive News also indicated that Ford plans to turn “Model E” into a family of compact cars using hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery-electric powertrains.

The race for long-range yet affordable electric cars is coinciding with an industry-wide competition for leadership in self-driving technology. Ford also announced this week that it will be build a completely autonomous car and put it on the road by 2021—what is emerging as common but aggressive target year for the first self-driving cars.

Ford said the cars would have no steering wheel or pedals, and would be used as driverless taxis in big cities. In a break from convention, Ford said its self-driving cars would most likely be hybrids (presumably plug-in hybrids) rather than pure electric cars—perhaps because taxis need to be in operation for longer periods than personal vehicles. Nearly every car company with a self-driving car program is using pure battery-electric technology to power the vehicles. If that trend continues, which is likely, the EV market will expand right along with increased usage of shared autonomous vehicles.

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