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]