A couple years ago, the VW Group promised that by 2018ish VW would be a electric vehicle major player. With the Audi e-tron quattro concept electric SUV, and the Porsche Mission E, and the VW e-Golf, we may be seeing the opening stanza’s in what may become a fully electrified automotive symphony. At the Frankfurt International Motor Show, VW Group executives are promising even more electric cars in the coming years.
A post in the Danish press has an interview with Ulrich Hackenberg, a chief engineer in the VW Group, promising more electric cars from Audi, and that the next VW e-Golf will have a 320 kilometer range. (about 200 miles) That promise wasn’t repeated in the text — it’s written in Danish, but read it with Google Chrome and the text will be translated. The “320 kilometer range” claim comes from a Facebook posting about this article. Back of the napkin calculations in that post suggests a 320 kilometer range e-Golf would require a 40 kiloWatt-hour battery pack.
FYI the 320 kilometer number is not a certified range, and is probably stated within the context of European range testing methodology. It’s known the NEDC process gives larger range estimates than does the EPA methodology. At Tesla Motors, getting an honest 200ish mile range through EPA methodology required a 60 kiloWatt-hour battery pack.
The other piece of news comes from autonews.com where they talked with Audi of America President Scott Keogh. He promised the Audi e-tron quattro would come to the U.S. in 2018, and that Audi won’t stop with that car.
He likened Audi’s strategy to that of Tesla Motors, in that Audi is beginning with battery-electric vehicles that provoke desirability, with a long driving range, high design and performance to build up demand and interest. Then as battery prices fall Audi will move on to less expensive electric cars with longer range.
By 2030 Keogh expects 1/4 of Audi’s sales will be EV’s. That’s partly based on expected future emissions and fuel economy regulations including California ZEV requirements.
It seems Keogh meant battery electric vehicles when saying 1/4 of Audi’s sales will be EV’s. He also said the EV’s will be preceded by a wave of plug-in hybrid vehicles across the line-up. Therefore we can expect more PHEV’s from Audi in the next few years.
The Audi A3 sportback e-tron PHEV is still on target to begin U.S. sales this fall.
Audi is part of the VW Group, and therefore Audi’s plans have to be taken within the context of VW Group plans overall.
A few months ago I took part in a marketing focus group at VW’s research center in Belmont CA. What VW described is a plan many of the other automakers are pondering as well — using autonomous vehicle technology to develop fully self-driving robo-taxi’s.
In other words, you’d have a smart phone app with which you request a car, the car drives itself to you, and then drives you to your destination, using traffic and routing data from cloud computing services to plot a driving route. Such a service works better with electric vehicles than gasoline. That’s because with wireless charging pads automated recharging is easy.
All along the VW Group has seemed one of the laggards in electric vehicles. They’ve primarily shown concept cars, and until the VW e-Golf hadn’t delivered much electrified anything on the market. Taking the hints above together, we see a high likelihood the VW Group will actually do something significant with electric vehicles.
I do have one personal disappointment. Apparently something was said in Frankfurt that, at the 2016 CES (the Las Vegas technology trade show), VW would be showing a VW Microbus concept vehicle as an electric vehicle.
What I’ve been hoping is that VW would bring back the Karmann Ghia as an electric car.
VW – do you have any idea how popular my electric Karmann Ghia was? Everywhere I went, I’d be besieged by people avidly recalling adventures in a Karmann Ghia, or hugely excited to hear about electric car technology. I can vouch that there’s a strong desire in the marketplace for the return of the Karmann Ghia. Making it electric would be icing on the cake.
As cool as my Kia Soul EV is, it doesn’t draw anywhere near the amount of attention.
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