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Speaking outside its Electronics Research Lab in Palo Alto, California, Volkswagen chairman Dr. Martin Winterkorn reconfirmed the automaker's commitment to bring electric vehicles to market in 2013, beginning with the eGolf compact and eUp! city car.

Drawing a faint parallel to the original Beetle, Winterkorn told the assembled media that "Volkswagen is working on the electric car for everyone." And one of the first electrified V-Dubs will be its bread-and-butter Golf hatchback.

"The automotive industry is reinventing itself," Winterkorn continued, "and Volkswagen will be the first automaker to mass produce the electric car for everyone." VW believes that electric vehicles are the next great revolution in the automobile, and in order to achieve its goal of becoming the world's top automaker by 2018, it believes it has to dominate the EV segment.

In addition to bringing two EVs to market in the next three years, the Touareg Hybrid (shown above) is being produced, with the hybrid Golf and Jetta due later that year and the hybrid Passat following in 2012. All of which VW considers to be interim products.

Although current battery technology has limited the eGolf to a 100-mile range when fitted with a 26.5 kWh battery pack, Winterkorn asserts that "Our customers are not willing to compromise. They expect the same thing from a standard [internal-combustion engine] Golf as they would from an electric Golf." But until its partnerships with Samsung, Toshiba and other battery manufacturers pan out and develop lighter, smaller, less expensive and higher capacity batteries, they'll have their work cut out for them.

When asked what VW plans to do about vehicle weight, Winterkorn rattled off a litany of advanced materials – from carbon fiber to magnesium – and told Autoblog that the next generation of Volkswagen products will undergo a weight loss program.

[Image: Sean Gallup/Getty]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Be careful GM. Remember that the Chinese love BIG cars like the Buick. The car has to be a quality item and it wouldn't hurt if it was sexy.
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's a kid car brand, but I find one of the best designed car bodies in the market today is the Scion tc. A 2 door hatch with reclining rear seats is just brilliant. I like hatchbacks, but only when they look sporty and to me the golf and gti don' t have a sports car look ( I know many will disagree). I'd like a 2 door hatchback EV that looks like a sports car and that a 6'2 person can actually sit in the back.
      • 4 Years Ago
      regarding weight loss on newer vehicles
      CF composites are still too expensive but cast magnesium is becoming more and more mainstream. its about time as its a relatively cheap way to shave 25-50 lbs off even a small car
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Volkswagen will be the first automaker to mass produce the electric car for everyone."

      Nissan will beat them to it by a couple of years.

      However, competition is good for the consumer. I say, bring on the VW EVs!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I just wish VW (well every car marker really) would bring more diesels over here. They are cheaper to produce and I am sure they have lower maintenance costs as well.

      Plus with the advancement of direct injected engines, that makes hybrids even less appealing. I know hybrids can do better in "city" applications, but not everyone lives and drives in a city only environment. I would guess that most driving (here in the US) is highway, where diesel is the "better buy".
        • 4 Years Ago
        The selling price of the car is not always indicative of the cost. I don't know how much a clean diesel engine costs to produce, but I would have to venture a guess it is cheaper than an Atkinson cycle engine, a battery pack, and a electric motor. I would like to see more competition for the diesel market, thus driving selling prices down. Look at the sub-$20k hatchback market here in the states. The new comers(Mazda2/Ford Fiesta) are going to force the competition(Honda Fit/Golf) to lower their price or increase features to justify the higher price. It will be very interesting to see if the Fiesta does indeed reach 40 MPG highway.

        I am thinking *long* term maintenance. At some point that battery pack will need to be replaced to keep the efficiency of the car going. At what cost will it be in addition to the normal maintenance vs just the normal maintenance of a diesel.

        Currently VW only offers their "large" TDI here. They have a smaller diesel (for example) for the Golf in the UK and it is cheaper (but with less power). They also have smaller turbo petrol engines. It's all a matter of choice, but here in the states we only get the large 2.5 L and the 2.0 TDI for the Golf and Jetta. And sadly they jam the TDI engine with a higher "trim" level. Can I get a base level Golf or Jetta with a TDI and save a few thousand dollars?? (Which the Jetta and Golf TDI are about $500 difference in price, but the Jetta is better equipped and larger.....)
        • 4 Years Ago
        When you look at long-term costs, you also have to factor in residuals / depreciation. Toyotas hold their value better than VWs, and studies have found that the increased resale value of Priuses often ends up balancing out the higher up front cost.

        Not that I have any particular horse in this race, or even care. Hybrids or diesels, whatever...they're all just segues to EVs. As a cyclist, I think my lungs are pretty agnostic over whether I'm sucking diesel particulates or gas fumes...
        • 4 Years Ago
        this constantly comes up

        diesels are very expensive, and to clean them up enough to meet US (cali) air regs takes a small chemical factory built into and around the exhaust

        a diesel is about $1500-2000 more per vehicle than a hybrid

        you want a hypothetical product that no one could sell and would not actually buy the product that could be brought to market
        • 4 Years Ago
        owdee: that's your opinion. many people like the prius and it's versatile interior space. and they like it's stand-apart looks.

        the CC has standout looks, but judging by the new Jetta VW is not concerned with continuing that trend.
        • 4 Years Ago

        the value of the TDI over the Prius is not measured in dollars but in style and driving pleasure; both of which the TDI beats the Prius by leaps and bounds
        • 4 Years Ago
        They currently offer (or plan on offering during the 2011 model year) jetta, golf, (and touareg) TDI models. What else are you looking for? Passat and CC TDI models would probably sell in way to little volume to justify development, federalization, etc.

        Probably Next to no one would buy an Eos or beetle convertible TDI, and they offered beetle hardtop TDI models from 1999 to 2006, which must have sold in too low of volume to redevelop when the current 2.0TDI JETTA was launched in 2008-2009.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm not sure they are a 'better' buy.
        They might be.
        You can get a prius for about the same as a tdi though.
        The prius gets about the same mileage for highway and takes regular gas, which has been much cheaper than diesel in the states the past few years.

        Of course, with the new low pricing on the jetta for 2011 I am interested to see what happens to the tdi pricing.
        No reason it should not drop a couple grand as well.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Our customers are not willing to compromise. They expect the same thing from a standard [internal-combustion engine] Golf as they would from an electric Golf."

      So that means going the same distance between stops and charging in the time it would take to fill a tank with fuel? Can't wait to see this technology.
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