Volkswagen to focus on electric mobility and connected cars

Frankfurt Am Main: German automotive giant Volkswagen has announced that the next new generation of internal combustion engine vehicles, to be launched from 2026, will be its last mobility means to be powered by derivatives from fossil fuel.

The move comes as the automaker goes forward with its green pledge, as it looks to turn the corner on the ‘dieselgate’ emissions cheating scandal.

Volkswagen’s strategy chief, Michael Jost, told an industry conference, on Tuesday, that the firm’s employees were working on ‘the last platform for vehicles that aren’t CO2 neutral’.

“We’re gradually fading out combustion engines to the absolute minimum,” he said at the conference near the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.

EV offensive

The carmaker, which last month announced a $50 billion electric vehicle offensive by 2023, said it would phase out its diesel and petrol cars, as it looks to meet the emissions targets of the 2015 Paris climate deal by 2050.

The Volkswagen group, whose brands range from luxury Porsche and Audi to the budget-conscious Skoda and Seat, has set itself the ambitious target of offering more than 50 electric models by 2025, up from six today.

Jost said the last generation of vehicles to be powered by petrol or diesel, would begin to roll out in 2026 and predicted that the last vehicle with a combustion engine would be sold around 2040.

In November’s announcement the group said its ‘electric offensive’ would focus on electric, self-driving and connected cars as well as mobility services like car sharing.

Experts stated that the move underscores Volkswagen’s commitment in closing the gap with Asian competitors and Tesla, who have had a head start in the e-car race.

The dieselgate

Volkswagen tilted towards electric vehicles or EVs in its efforts to shake off its ongoing ‘dieselgate’ scandal.

In 2015, the group was forced to admit that it had indeed installed a cheating software in 11 million diesel vehicles designed to dupe pollution tests. Suspicions of trickery later spread to other carmakers too, badly hurting the industry’s reputation.

The rise of hybrids
As a byproduct to the dieselgate, hybrid vehicles have found a new ground as governments all over the globe started giving incentives for such cars. The Indian government launched the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacture of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles) India Scheme in 2015 to incentivize the production and promotion of eco-friendly vehicles including electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles.

At present, the FAME scheme gives incentives to electric scooters ranging between Rs 1,700 to Rs 39,000. For three-wheelers, the incentives range from Rs 3,300 and Rs 61,000 and for electric and hybrid cars, the benefits ranges from Rs 11,500 to Rs 1.43 lakh. Electric buses cost about Rs 55 lakh less under the scheme.

 

What it cost
The ‘dieselgate’ fallout has so far cost VW more than 28 billion euros in fines, buybacks and compensation.

The company announced a net loss of nearly 1.6 billion euros in 2015, its first in 20 years, after setting aside billions to cover the costs of the dieselgate.

But it returned to the black in 2016, with a net profit of 5.1 billion euros, followed by 11.35 billion euros in 2017.

It still faces lawsuits from thousands of car buyers and investors around the world, including Germany, France, Italy, Britain and Poland.

The group is still the world’s biggest carmaker, selling a record 10.74 million vehicles last year — more than before the crisis erupted.

 

NT Bureau