The Volkswagen Group has already revealed or put on sale a broad slate of new electric vehicles: the E-up, the E-Golf (shown above), the Porsche 918 Spyder, the Panamera S E-Hybrid and the XL1. In 2014, there will be at least six more models, including the A3 Sportback E-Tron. And after that? Well, to hear Rudolf Krebs, Group Commissioner For Electric Vehicle Drive Systems, tell it, VW's future is full of plug-in goodness. "With our platform strategy, it is quite easy to bring a lot of electrified vehicles to the market for the different brands in a very short time," he said.

"We try, with a minimum of those components, to produce a maximum number of variants of cars"

That strategy starts with three platforms: MQB for small cars, MLB for midsize models and MSB for sporty and premium products (there's also the NSF for cars like the E-up). Speaking to AutoblogGreen, Krebs said VW has designed modules, things like engines and electric components (think: AC compressor, on-board chargers and battery management systems), to be used across all three platforms and across all brands all. "We try, with a minimum of those components, to produce a maximum number of variants of cars," he said. "This is only possible if, at an early stage of the design of new vehicles, we implement the idea that these cars are not only designed for gasoline and diesel powertrains but that we can also include CNG concepts, flex-fuel concepts, pure electric vehicles or plug-in hybrid vehicles. With minor changes in the body in white, we can produce those vehicles, bumper-to-bumper, in one factory."

VW EVs

"VW wants to be the leader in the electrification of vehicles"

In this way, customers can choose the powertrain that they want, or whatever powertrain their local regulations demand. Politicians have already put a lot of pressure on the automotive industry, with ever-stricter CO2 regulations coming into effect in all of the major markets. In the US, the fuel economy regulation numbers require the equivalent of 101 grams of CO2 emissions per kilometer by 2025. Europe, it's 95 grams by 2020. And China, which is asking for 118 grams by 2020, will be a tough scenario, Krebs said. Today, by optimizing conventional technologies and supporting things like CNG and biofuels, more than 300 VW Group models emit less than 120 g/km. A hundred of those are even under 100 g/km. But this is not sufficient, and VW admits that conventional powertrains will not be not enough. The writing is on the wall: plug-in vehicles, including pure EVs and plug-in hybrids, will be required. VW has obviously invested a lot in diesel technology and the Group is not ignoring hydrogen by any means, but when the company looks forward, Krebs says he sees batteries and plugs leading the way.

"We decided on the most comprehensive strategy," Krebs said, "because we want to be the leader in the electrification of vehicles." To do this, the board of management decided years ago to comprehensively rethink its approach to EVs. The Group spent a lot of money developing EV knowledge in-house. When it comes to batteries, for example, VW buys cells from a supplier, but assembles the battery packs in-house. VW hired 400 "top experts" to build up its knowledge on electric drive, something Krebs said was a "very strategic investment in the future of our brands." The Group has also trained about 70,000 current employees in EV technology.

It it important to remember, Krebs said, that "Electromobility is comparatively young. Nobody knows where the market will go." Everyone is trying to read the tea leaves, but "the answer will not be simple. There is no blockbuster solution."


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 65 Comments
      Rotation
      • 11 Months Ago
      All in is making a dedicated EV, not a car that can be built two ways.
        DaveMart
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Rotation
        Modular assembly is the key to costs, and relatively short production runs of EVS etc for manufacturers that can't command the premium that BMW can. That is why Nissan is now bending its efforts to following VW, and going to just a few platforms. It costs huge amounts of money, that is why the vastly profitable VW group is first there.
          chanonissan
          • 11 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          "That is why Nissan is now bending its efforts to following VW, and going to just a few platforms." That is not total correct, nissan have already made the platforms from 2012, but announce it in 2013, when you saw the hi cross concept, the platform was already in place. The first models built under the new system is the Nissan's Rogue, Qashqai and X-Trail SUVs already available on the market in 2013 and Renault's Espace mid-size model being introduced in 2014, followed by successors to the Laguna midsize car and Scenic minivan. So it could not be now if they already have three suvs on the market.
          DaveMart
          • 11 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          Indeed. They are however the first big manufacturer to do it throughout their model range, and what is more make the design able to take any drive train, which is the point of the present discussion. As I said, Nissan used a purpose built platform for the Leaf because they had to. They are now putting all the Renault/Nissan group's efforts into developing a limited number of highly flexible platforms, just as VW has already done.
          Spec
          • 11 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          Sure. But as Rotation points out, hedging your bets that way is not "all in".
          The Wasp
          • 11 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          VW is hardly the first to share platforms. They may do it with greater dedication than other brands.
          DaveMart
          • 11 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          @Chanonissan: Hmm. Perhaps the candid reader will allow me that degree of latitude in the use of the term:'now' They have been working on it for a while now, but as they say, have a long way to go, and as I was trying to indicate the end result perhaps in 3 years time or so will look very like VW's platform lineup.
          chanonissan
          • 11 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          and the murano spotted is also in testing, and the 2015 march/micra should be out soon testing with a new platform.
        DarylMc
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Rotation
        Hi Rotation After all the negative comments over the years about Prius, Leaf, i3 I can only see it as a good thing that they chose to use standard exteriors on modified platforms.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 11 Months Ago
      Aw, look what heel-dragging company is finally embracing the future.. how cute... :)
        DarylMc
        • 11 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Hi 2WM I don't know which petrol engines VW Golf use over there but the 1.4 L ones here are claiming almost the same highway economy as the 2.0 L diesels now. Within a few percent, certainly not 25% difference. 4.6L/100km or 51MPG US highway from our test standard. VW must be sending the gas guzzling reliable version there:)
        Aaron
        • 11 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        He is right, downvoters. VW is late to the party and their offerings are nothing outstanding.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Aaron
          Yeah but the gas version gets 31mpg highway, that's kind of pathetic. The diesel version is spendy and is rated for 42 highway. Looks are one thing, but it's what's on the inside that matters to me. And by that, VW is pretty good at making nice cars, but not reliable cars, or efficient cars.
          Aaron
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Aaron
          @Joe: You're right. Sometimes mundane is good. Flashier cars tend to be stolen more frequently, for example. However, in VW's case, they're making cars in segments that already have EVs with specs that are nearly identical. The eUp's size, range, etc., are nearly identical to the Mitsubishi i-MiEV which is already selling well in Europe and Asia. The eGolf's size, range, etc., are nearly identical to the Nissan LEAF which is already selling well worldwide.
          Joe Acerbic
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Aaron
          Sometimes not outstanding is good. That Golf looks just normal, nice, which I would take any day over Leaf or BMW Aztec.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Aaron
          They're not even all that nice any more... (Mrs. LTAW defected from VW to Honda for 38mpg highway)
        Val
        • 11 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        How are they behind? GM was behind toyota, managed to catch up and overtake them with the volt, which sells a lot more than the prius plug-in and is arguably more capable. Nissan was nowhere until the leaf came along, and it's not like they have that much of an advantage anyway, with something like 100k cars sold to date. With the volumes VW can deliver, if the price is right, they will overtake the rest pretty easily. The game is still in its very early stages, and waiting for the right moment to enter is definitely better than going in prematurely, which really brings no benefits. At least it is encouraging that they are not wasting much time and money on hydrogen, with CNG delivering basically the same well-to-wheel efficiency for a fraction of the price. Nobody spends that much on electrification, and trains 70,000 people, just to make press releases and do nothing.
          Val
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Val
          RUMORS about an audi A7 is not the same as actually testing an A7. The Q5 was just a showpiece without any real production plans, even limited production. It is amazing that anyone is still willing to give money to ballard, a company which has proven has never delivered on any of its promises, and pulled out of passenger vehicles fuel cells after dismal results. They were supposed to be focusing on commercial applications, guess there are still government funds to be had if a company feigns interest in fuel cells. Hence the phony contract with VW.
          Val
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Val
          but when the company looks forward, Krebs says he sees batteries and plugs leading the way. "We decided on the most comprehensive strategy," Krebs said, "because we want to be the leader in the electrification of vehicles. So they don't badmouth the technology, but they have said some bad things about batteries? Which one is it? And if they are spending on fuel cells, where are the results? We've seen hybrid and electric concepts for at least 5 years now, but no fuel cell concepts or even press releases. It is pretty clear from the statement above which one they have chosen, even if mr. krebs is not saying FCVs are bullsh!t, like elon does. The VW glof is now in its 7th generation, they had a running 6th gen golf EV prototype shortly after it came to market. And yet you say they don't talk about the technology. Really? Guess all the talk about the R8 etron, all the demonstrations at multiple car shows, or the nürburgring record for evs, are somehow not considered talking before they have anything to sell.
          DaveMart
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Val
          VW are spending plenty on fuel cells, and all their platforms are capable of taking the drive train. Just as they did with BEVs and PHEVs though, until VW have something they are able to sell you, they don't talk about or even actively bad-mouth the technology. They have kept pretty silent on FCEV, which is positive compared to some of the things they said about batteries! ;-) They are certainly not intending to be an early producer of fuel cells though, just as they weren't for battery cars. That is not the way they do things.
          Val
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Val
          Fuel cells using hydrogen are around twice as energetically efficient even after reforming losses. In your dreams, perhaps. The SLIGHT advantage fcvs may have is offset by the insurmountable cost difference, both of the vehicle and the infrastructure. In the grand scheme of things, 100 million wasted dollars is not much money at all. VW spent something like $70 BILLION on the MQB platform. Their EV push is already worth way more than a billion. And yes, toyota engineers don't know better, they are not calculating with efficiency in mind, but with government subsidies and incentives. And the sweet moment in time when renewable hydrogen will start squirting out of the ground, ushering in a new era of unicorns and fairy dust.
          DaveMart
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Val
          Val: I can't be bothered to link you to all the umpteen comments VW and more particularly Audi, including if my memory is right the head of Audi in the US made to knock electric cars. Here is a link to some of their fuel cell prototypes: http://www.volkswagenag.com/content/vwcorp/content/en/innovation/fuel_and_propulsion/Fuel_Cell.html
          Letstakeawalk
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Val
          There's also an Audi Q5 FCV. http://www.carsvw.com/2011/05/audi-q5-hybrid-fuel-cell-innovative-alternative-propulsion/ Not to mention the four-year agreement with Ballard to develop their HyMotion FCVs. "The secret is out: Volkswagen is committed to fuel cell vehicle technology. The German carmaker, which earlier this week outlined its plans to achieve a 95g/km CO2 fleet in Europe by 2020 (see article), has now signed an agreement with Ballard Power Systems which will advance the development of fuel cells to be used in Volkswagen’s demonstration cars within its automotive research programme. It’s a long term commitment from Volkswagen too – set to last four years with the option for a two-year extension, and with a value ranging from C$60-$100million." http://www.ballard.com/about-ballard/newsroom/news-releases/news03061302.aspx "“The announcement of this research agreement with Volkswagen Group, a recognized global leader, is a major step for Ballard both strategically and financially,” said John Sheridan, Ballard President and CEO. “It represents a tremendous ramp-up in our Engineering Services business following the recent expiration of the five year automotive non-compete agreement. Ballard’s focus with Volkswagen in this new automotive fuel cell research program will parallel our continuing work in commercial fuel cell markets for backup power and material handling — enhancing product durability and performance while radically reducing product costs.” It should be noted that the non-compete agreement was signed after Ballard spun off part of its automotive section to form a new JV with Ford and Daimler.
          DaveMart
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Val
          Currently they are knocking fuel cells, just like they did batteries, and testing them simultaneously in an Audi A7: http://www.autoblog.com/2013/06/01/audi-planning-a7-powered-by-fuel-cell/
          DaveMart
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Val
          Val: It is clear that whatever information you are shown you are determined not to find it satisfactory., and that your comments are in fact determined by your opposition to fuel cells, with your assumed lack of interest from VW simply a handy stick to beat them with. In your first post you claimed: 'At least it is encouraging that they are not wasting much time and money on hydrogen' Well, it is perfectly clear that VW though investing in Ballad is, in your terms, 'wasting' plenty of money on fuel cells. I'll ignore your nonsense about not having seen the demos running about, and also the comment: 'with CNG delivering basically the same well-to-wheel efficiency for a fraction of the price.' Fuel cells using hydrogen are around twice as energetically efficient even after reforming losses. But what would the 500 Toyota engineers working on fuel cells know? No doubt they can't add up.
        CoolWaters
        • 11 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        You meant "auto company", Exxon still funding AGW Denial, in 2014! Walmart has more Solar Capacity then Exxon!
      Vwfanatic
      • 11 Months Ago
      And none of these EVs will come to the USA???
        DaveMart
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Vwfanatic
        The E-Up is not going to the States. The E-Golf, and and the Audi A3 PHEV are scheduled for US release, and later there is a slew of cars, although VW/Audi have not specified which ones will go to the states. The Golf PHEV and probably the Passat PVEV are States bound though, the later likely because of the liking for sedans in the US. Up a grade or two, the Audi Q7 PHEV is a likely release. VW are training their staff in all states for their electric models, and are very specific that they will all be on general release, not compliance vehicles only sold in some states.
      RGT881
      • 11 Months Ago
      Good for VW, I know that Tesla fanboys will nitpick this to death, but if you look at their offerings and how well they've been received then the reality becomes obvious.
      • 11 Months Ago
      I wonder when I will be able to order an fully electric VW minivan or SUV. Actually I just need a 6 seater.
        Spec
        • 11 Months Ago
        Well . . . plan to pay a lot for a pure electric 6 seater. You are going to need a lot of battery to haul 6 people around with any decent range.
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Spec
          I wonder how much it would cost with indecent imiev range, mazda 5 style. Bonus points if there is a range extender trailer available for longer trips.
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Spec
          Would be interesting to see a 6 seater with different prices for different ranges. Like 60, 80, 100, 120 mile, etc... Even better would be if I could rent the batteries for longer weekend trips, so I could go from 60 mile range to 120 mile range.
      Tweaker
      • 11 Months Ago
      As if VW was really, really trying. The only thing they sell here is the Jetta Hybrid, and only ~5,000 units - a CA compliance car. The rest is fluff. But they sure like to talk about it.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 11 Months Ago
      "VW hired 400 "top experts" to build up its knowledge on electric drive..." Who? Top. Experts.
      • 11 Months Ago
      VW has the most efficient diesel. When diesel is run at one RPM it is the most efficient. Why not design a car to run on a diesel generator with a plug-in electric drive? Knock everyone out of the play!
      DaveMart
      • 11 Months Ago
      Fans of natural gas should note that all models are also easily produced in that form. It remains to be seen if they are released in the States.
        EZEE2
        • 11 Months Ago
        @DaveMart
        I laugh at those downvotes. Here is a funny meter on downvotes: Not funny: downvotes, and offers opinion on why the post is wrong. Mildly funny: downvotes but offers no reason. Funny: downvotes a factual post and offers opinion. Hilarious: what happened above.
        DaveMart
        • 11 Months Ago
        @DaveMart
        Who on earth has downrated a comment informing people that VW are to produce NG cars on the same platforms? It is staggering that anyone can be that dim.
          • 11 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          This sight is green.autoblog.com. This sight is visited by people concerned about the environment. Natural gas is not a green solution, therefore the down votes.
          DaveMart
          • 11 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          Well, that is a rationale. Not a very good one, but a rationale. Well done!
      • 11 Months Ago
      VW has the most efficient diesel. When run at one speed, ICE are most efficient. Why don't they combine the efficiency of diesel motor/generator with plug-in electric drive? It would be a winner!
      EZEE2
      • 11 Months Ago
      @ LWAT I have also never known a person who owned a VW long term that didn't have it totally fall apart. And stupid stuff, like the interior door panels falling off. VW to Honda is a very wise move. @Mrs. LTAW Hey Baby! ;)
      jeff
      • 11 Months Ago
      It seem their new strategy is to throw out a bunch of stuff in very small numbers and see what happens... Well I guess that is better than the past track record of announcing a new EV/Hybrid ever couple of weeks and delivering nothing...
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