• May 18th 2009 at 8:07AM
  • 47
It sounds like executives from the Volkswagen Group are speaking with one voice on the subject of plug in vehicles. While both Volkswagen and its premium brand Audi are working on various combinations of hybrid, plug-in and even fuel cell technology, it doesn't necessarily follow that these technologies will be readily available anytime soon. VW of America CEO Stefan Jacoby spoke to a group of media in Seattle last week where he told the gathering that its unlikely that plug-in vehicles will go mainstream within the next decade.
The issue as it is today is affordability. The problems remain mass, capacity and cost of batteries. Right now you can have any two. Jacoby expects plug-in vehicles to become more common, but until the costs come down while still meeting customer performance expectations, the masses won't be adopting.

In the near term, VW plans to focus on optimizing existing gas and diesel powertrains by expanding availability of direct injection, downsizing and turbocharging. Automatic start-stop capability will also help, along with weight reduction to achieve the goal of halving fuel consumption over the next ten years.

[Source: The Car Connection]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      My message to Mr Jacoby .... No Plug , No Sale !

      • 6 Years Ago
      No one ever expected the auto industry to embrace a cleaner more efficient technology out of the kindness of their hearts. We've heard these words before, they are aimed at Washington and they intend to discourage radical change. What the auto industry doesn't get is that the ground beneath them is shifted and now they are forced to have a conversation they would rather ignore. The very fact that we are having this conversation, says to me a lot more than his own words.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I would say the investment by some autocompanies makes this a VW position and not an industry position.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think there is a small but growing minority, like andrichrose and myself that simply will not buy a new car unless it has a plug, and in my case I want to be able to get to work and back on pure electricity, that's only 20 miles but I'd like a 30 mile all electric range for comfort. I'm prepared to pay a premium for this as I've calculate it would pay for itself even at *todays* fuel prices. Of course the cost of electricity is not static either but I think 2010 should mark the beginning of the end of the ICE, bring it on.. oh one more thing...

      I have a message for Mr Jacoby too.... No Plug, No Sale!
      • 6 Years Ago
      "It's not fine to make statements about a decade into the future. Jacoby can't predict the future any better than anyone else, so he should keep his mouth shut."

      Alan, he is the CEO ov VW of America, he should be making statements about the future. Do you know how long the development cycle is for a new car? If he is not thinking about 10 years out he is not doing his job. When gas prices skyrocketed last Summer most people did not buy new cars, they drove less. People who where in the market for a car looked for a more fule efficient car. Other than ABG and other "green" sites I don't hear clamoring to plug cars in.
        • 6 Years Ago
        He should be *thinking* about the future but not commenting on it. It's unfortunate that various CEO's have decided to state their *opinion* on the whole EV vs ICE debate over the past few years. The fact of the matter is that switching from ICE to EV is as big as switching from horses to cars and it's creating volatility. Businesses like certaintity and incremental changes/improvements.

        I wish companies would get on with the business of

        1) Creating a *value proposition*
        2) Marketting it
        3) Reinvesting a decent proportion of the profits
        4) Go to step 1.

        I think the public have waited long enough to see the major car companies take major innovation seriously, other industries don't get away with the kind of backward looking attitutude that they do so I don't see why they should get away with it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Battery costs do have to go down a very long way and there are a LOT of charging stations to be installed before the MASSES accept EVs.

      Will that take 10 years or more depends on the price of gas at the pump, the availability of consumer credit, the unsold stock of relatively cheap ICE cars and the availability of EVs at a price that is competitive to ICE cars.

      10 years is NOT a long time when you look at the big picture. Hell, most manufacturers take 3-4 years just to come out with a new model of car.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The recession will make gas more plentiful due to less driving, but the US Dollar will soon begin it's hyperinflation cycle due to the Fed's printing habit and Congressional spending spree.

        What does this mean for future gas prices? Look to the last 3 months and expect that trend to continue and accelerate. Personally, I expect gas to reach $4.50 in the US by Christmas and stay there or perhaps go a little higher.

        The future of EVs (and any consumer goods) in the US is uncertain. Specially if they (or their components) are imported where the dollar exchange is a factor.
        • 6 Years Ago

        I wholeheartedly agree with you about those salesmen! Perhaps the incentives are working? I just checked the dealer inventory and they only have 1 Tundra on the lot (they are the largest dealer in the area) and its a standard cab in white - this was the one inside the showroom. I checked the other guys and I see one dealer has no Tundras and I have to go about 25 miles away to find one that has 2 on the lot. Perhaps a regional thing right now?
        • 6 Years Ago

        You have very good points that a lot of people here miss. Car companies are in it to make money. They do research. They understand what a majority of the public wants and try to maximize their profit. When the EV equation says that is where the money is, they'll be there.

        Last week I had to buy a new car. So I stopped into a Toyota dealer (in western Michigan) and got a nice Corolla. When I first stepped onto the lot I was looking at a Tundra (I did some work on this in my former professional life). The sales guy told me to "Stop looking. We have a pretty good waiting list for them." Turns out that since about January or so, they saw a complete shift away from cars and back to trucks and SUVs. So where's the money at right now?

        Toyota was incredibly smart to dabble into the technology when there wasn't much of a market just to work out the kinks. But considering that the market is something like 13 million cars a year and hybrids account for only a small part (wasn't the Prius sales about 160,000 for 2008 and the Ford F series trucks were more than 3 times higher?). I suspect that a most "typical" car buyers would treat an EV as inferior to a hybrid.
        • 8 Months Ago
        You can come out here to California to get a Tundra. There's no waiting lists here. Also, dealers in your area (I entered 48103 zip) are giving $2500 cash back on Tundras right now. Kinda weird if they had waiting lists, huh?

        You may want to be more careful about believing what car salesmen tell you.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Well Dave (comment #2),
      We live in the northeast also. Our house is zero energy. This means we produce 100% of all the energy the house uses. We built it 15 years ago. It's a 2700 sqft post and beam house. 4 bedroom, 3 bath, etc.

      So it's not impossible and it did not cost a penny more than a conventional house.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hardly surprising that one of the mainstream automakers furthest behind in the development of the electric car is the one trying to talk it down.

      Electric cars are viable now, but a lot of people stand to lose their jobs if they become mainstream in short notice.

      Worthy sacrifice imo.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Stefan Jacoby is probably not far off the mark.

      The only reason gasoline-powered cars are "affordable" is because of mass production on a huge scale, combined with decades of cost-reduction. The same thing can happen to batteries, but getting there just might take around ten years as Mr. Jacoby implied.

      Anyhow. . . That still leaves us with the question of *who* is going to make it happen. I seem to recall Lee Iacocca once said companies have to "lead, follow or get out of the way". It doesn't sound to me like VW is eager to lead.

        • 8 Months Ago
        Volkswagen is being outgunned by their competition.

        Chinese BYD has already started SELLING the plug-in hybrid for 22.000 USD. Real life range proved to be about 20 all electric miles.

        Toyota is starting leasing plug-in version of their 3rd gen Prius in 2009.

        So VW CEOs had no choice than to resort to the cheapest weapon possible. Talking.

        What else could they do, not even having a hybrid in their portfolio.
        • 8 Months Ago
        The BYD F3DM is not an EV. The Prius is not an EV. Both are hybrids. There's a lot of difference, as hybrids can use much smaller batteries.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I agree with Jacoby. The amount of people willing to part with a premium amount of cash for a battery only vehicle is just too few. VW needs to make money not just make cars for special interest groups.

      Besides, no one has really talked about how batteries are not exactly clean from well to wheel. The problem lies with the coal fired power plants that will recharge the toxic batteries. Not everyone can use a battery only car either. Most of the EV cars will be kept small to reduce the added weight of the battery. A lot of drivers have more than 2 kids and a sedan or two seat convertible is just not going to cut it.

      For these reasons battery only cars will be a niche product and should be sold from niche auto companies like Tesla and Think. They can charge a premium and those that can afford it will step up to the plate to get a "special" car.

      Most of the comments here are completely irrational with no business practicality. Typical of niche special interest groups. No one is keeping these people from buying a battery only car. They are available right now, or you can make your own. The problem is that most of these niche people can't afford that "special" EV and all they can do is complain about auto companies that won't sell an EV without a profit.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Also remember that you will benefit from the increasing proportion of energy that is coming from green sources plus any improvements at the coal plants (carbon capture for example) without having to buy a new car.

        And of course, you don't necessarily have to get that energy from the grid anyway.
        • 8 Months Ago
        I forgot to comment on your well to wheel comment. Are you seriously saying that it is better to:

        1) Extract oil from increasingly empty oil wells (using energy)
        2) Ship oil to refinary (using energy)
        3) Refine oil to petrol (using energy)
        4) Transport petrol to petrol station (using energy)
        5) Carry petrol around (using energy - ok ICE is better than EV here!)


        Charge a battery with electricity, yes there are fuel extraction and transport costs for coal and there are transportation costs, but simple physics dicates that electricity is much more efficient, add to that the efficiency of a batter/electric motor combination over an ICE and you can see that the ICE is starting it's slow death just like the use of horses did 100 years ago. Personally I can't wait to see the back of the ICE, it's inefficient, overcomplicated and generally a Pain In The Ass.
        • 8 Months Ago
        All your comments are great, but does not prove that batteries are the holy grail of alternative energy for EVERYBODY. It is for NICHE customers whom are willing to pay the premium over an ice or hybrid or CNG or LPG. The battery only car cannot...yet do all the things (Pull a boat, snowmobiles, motorcycles, atv's, large family, long range trips, hills or God forbid a real mountain) available in an ice, hybrid, CNG or LPG...or even hydrogen ICE or Fuel Cell.

        I am not in love with ICE, but battery only is not even in the cards for most people...thus very little profit for most major manufacturers. If batteries were so wonderful, Think would have no trouble getting funding to expand and we would see hundreds of thousands on the road, but we don't, battery tech has been around for over a hundred years, yet no purposeful battery car has been made in that entire time, that can do all of the above.

        Hybrids make sense for most, but still costs more than an ice if gas is cheap...need to make more to have economies of scale. Hybrids can do all that an ice can do...because of the ice, but makes for a seriously more complicated machine.....

        All I am saying is that battery only cars will be important in a certain small segment of the market...will it be the dominant player....no chance in hell. Will LPG or CNG...has more potential in the short term and long term....diesel, better in short term....gasoline, needs to be eliminated...hydrogen, needs to explored as this can be a major part of the solutions and market segment as it addresses both the needs of the consumer and pollution/limited quantity of oil problem more than a battery only car.

        Battery only car if you are looking for a TESLA type auto to impress your homosexual friends/special interest groups...then drive your hybrid GM truck to pull your boat...if you have that kind of cash....which most of us don't.

        We need to get excited about all types of energy conservation and development not just batteries as this website has a huge bias towards.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Stationary power plants use certain efficiency boosting devices that are too large and heavy to use on vehicles, the result is much higher efficiency than is possible with gassers or diesel vehicles. Combine that efficiency with very high efficiency of the grid and plug-ins, and the "well to wheel" efficiency of plug-in cars is much higher than the "well to wheel" efficiency of any IC engine vehicle.

        While you mentioned the "toxic" batteries, you failed to note the toxic petroleum products used as fuels, and the toxic waste motor oils, and the toxic pollutants produced by IC engine operation. At least with batteries, any potentially toxic materials are safely sealed inside, Moreover, the newer generation of LiIon batteries are safer and considered "non-toxic" as far as landfill disposal is concerned.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Making a profit is fine, I didn't see anyone say VW should be selling us EV cars at a loss. It's not fine to make statements about a decade into the future. Jacoby can't predict the future any better than anyone else, so he should keep his mouth shut. A small minority of people want affordable EV/REEV - so they should concentrate on meeting that desire not predicting when it will/won't be affordable.
      • 6 Years Ago
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think VW is a worthless company with unreliable products. And the paltry number of diesel sales they make in the USA is more for halo effect than anything, IMHO.

        However, they are right. General adoption of EVs doesn't make financial sense. Or environmental sense. Or geopolitical sense. And probably won't for at least ten years.

        I live in the Northeast. My house takes 1000+ gallons of oil per year for heat and hot water.
        Plus a bunch of electricity that is probably produced primarily with natural gas.

        Both cars in my household together require 800 gallons of gasoline. Neither is a hybrid.

        I cannot justify spending $40,000 on an EV which will have a pathetic range when the heat or A/C is on and whose environmental benefits are dubious considering the sources of electricity in the USA.

        Like most people, I could reduce my carbon footprint and oil dependency far more for a much smaller expenditure.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Dave, what EV's do you know of that are going to be $40K? Most of the automakers coming out with EVs haven't even announce price-points, but are expected to sell in the mid-30s BEFORE the tax credit.

        EVs also make alot of environmental sense (less carbon output than ICEs even with power production output factored in), alot of geopolitical sense (reduced dependency on foreign oil), and most definitely alot of financial sense (dramatic reduction in cost of ownership, including maintenance, gas, and very low depreciation). In 10 years time mass battery-production will reduce its cost significantly, and should bring the production of EV cars BELOW that of their ICE equivalents, due mainly to significantly less parts in EV autos.

        We are in a statistical Depression and gas is hovering around $50 a barrel. It is blatantly obvious that gas will be well over a $100 a barrel, and pushing $4+ a gallon when GDP turns positive again. If you need 1600gallons driving capacity at all times then you are clearly one of those fringe cases and do not reflect the driving needs of the general public (the vast majority travel 40miles round-trip daily). I hope your paycheck will be able to afford it in a couple years. The rest of America will be placing backorders on smaller, more efficient cars, and EVs will be in very high demand. I can absolutely guarantee that every EV put on the lots in the next couple years will sell out, and depending on gas prices may go for more than their sticker price.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Dave, your money is better spent on insulating your house.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I currently drive a 14 yr old Japanese 4 cylinder car that I will keep going until I can get a decent EV. I have the funds right now to buy a VW Golf TDI but I cannot see one good reason to buy another petrochemically powered vehicle.

      The VW Executives can argue all they like but they will never see my dollars or anyone else's, who wakes up to that fact that investing in an oil powered vehicle is a pointless exercise.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Well said!!! My thoughts exactly. I drive a Nissan Micra 1.5 diesel and It will be the last oil powered car I will ever buy (it is a good car but I don't want to support oil any longer). I will drive it until a viable EV comes, otherwise I will get an electric motorbike and rent a car when I need to go further than the office.

        VW and others are playing on people's fears about EVs and the 5% of the time that people drive more than 40miles per day, people need to evaluate how much they need to drive and change their lifestyles to accomodate it.

        A smart electric would suit about 90% of people in reality.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think he is right - pure EVs are a long way from mass adoption. I know my next car won't be a pure EV - it will be a range-extended EV. Sure, most days I do less than 20 miles but I also want the comfort of being able to go further when it is necessary. Range-extended EVs are the best of both worlds.

      Although that probably won't be for a while because I don't have a garage where I live, so I will have to wait until there are street charging points within reasonable walking distance.
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