Will VW Try to Take Electric Car Leadership from Tesla?

By · April 19, 2017

The Volkswagen all-electric I.D. Crozz crossover concept

Volkswagen has been talking about a major shift to electric vehicles ever since the revelations of the company’s diesel-emissions scandal. The company now appears to be focusing on the affordability of its upcoming EVs. “Offering our electric cars for prices similar to combustion engine vehicles really is a game changer,” said Christian Senger, head of VW’s electric vehicle program, while speaking with reporters on Tuesday at the Shanghai Auto Show.

The German car company said it has made “huge progress” with reducing EV production costs, according to Bloomberg. The unveiling of four affordable electric vehicles in Shanghai is being interpreted as a challenge to Tesla and its upcoming Model 3. VW’s pricing for its long-range electric cars will not be known for at least a couple years.

The VW display in Shanghai featured the first public presentation of the I.D. Crozz crossover concept, slated for production in 2020. With an expected battery capacity of more than 80 kilowatt-hours, the four-door I.D. Crozz could travel more than 300 miles on a single charge. Like many of the latest electric concept vehicles, the I.D. Crozz will have advanced self-driving features.

An electric vehicle with a big battery obviously offers more range, but at the same time, it takes longer to charge—making it difficult to quickly refuel for road trips. VW and other automakers are now testing 150-kW ultra-fast DC chargers, but the feasibility of widespread use has not been established.

What is apparently certain, at least from Volkswagen’s perspective, is the need to take a leadership role in the industry’s transition to affordable electric cars—even if that means only unveiling new concept vehicles that are a few years away.

“If it was ever possible to make a 100-percent certain prediction of what the future will look like, here it is," said Klaus Bischoff, Volkswagen’s design chief. “For us, the three prototypes of this new generation of zero-emission vehicles—I.D., I.D. Buzz and I.D. Crozz—mark the start of a design and technology revolution that is going to change individual mobility and the Volkswagen brand forever.”

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