Volkswagen, which as a group aspires to be the world leader in electric cars, says it has nothing but respect and admiration for industry agitator Tesla, Inc.
The German brand’s board member who oversees global sales and marketing, Jurgen Stackmann, told us recently in Frankfurt that the Silicon Valley titan had “come from nothing, from an interesting angle” and earned a spot at the big table as an industry leader.
“I think it’s a brand that we truly respect as a team, we benchmarked it deeply and as they’re coming from a different perspective of manufacturing and customer thinking, they’ve earned a right in this market,” he said.
“Basically, we are not afraid of Tesla, but we respect what they’re doing, though we need to go our own way.”
Volkswagen will launch the I.D hatch and I.D Crozz crossover EVs in 2020, promising circa 600km ranges and prices similar to higher-end Golf and Tiguan models respectively. A reborn electric Kombi/Bulli called the I.D Buzz will appear in 2022. More will follow.
The forthright Stackmann, who took his current role shortly after the diesel emissions scandal hit the company and has helped lead its apparent re-positioning, has previously said ‘Dieselgate’ also hastened the company’s desire to make EVs a core priority.
Expanding on his thought, Stackmann said the model used by Tesla to put out in-car tech updates over the air as downloads - like your smartphone has done for ages - was one that VW Group would be following on its new ‘MEB’ family of EVs.
“The connected car is equally important to us. The functionality of the MEB [universal EV platform] is to be upgradeable,” he said.
“... You do need to install the hardware from day zero and have sufficient computing power to get the job done, but obviously with engineering progress any car should be able to pull our latest operating system.
“That’s the new world for us. It’s not just selling a car, but making sure it can be upgraded.”
So what are these mooted Volkswagen Group goals to rule the world of vehicle electrification?
The company says its MEB-based cars must account for one million sales from the brand — and three-million from the wider VW Group as a whole including Skoda, Seat, Audi and Porsche — each year by 2025.
Overall boss of the Volkswagen Group globally, Matthias Mueller, who like Stackmann took his role after Dieselgate, added:
“By 2030 there will be an electrified version of all 300 VW Group models sold around the world.
“By 2025 we will sell three million units [of EVs] annually. We’re sending clear signals to suppliers and politicians. And customers.”
“Volkswagen is going to lead the way to the future. A breakthrough won’t be achieved by self-proclaimed pioneers, but those who put the tech on the road in relevant numbers… a group that sells 10 million cars every year in all segments and all regions.
“By 2030 we will make more than 20 billion euros available on vehicles that will be based on two newly-engineered EV platforms, in factories, in charging infrastructure, and sales and marketing.
“We have issued an invitation to tender for strategic partnerships in China, the US and Europe. It’s one of the highest procurements in history. The term-of-project investment is 50 billion euros. MEB is the key.
“Then we have the next generation which is the solid-state battery with 1000km ranges.”
On that note, it's worth mentioning the Volkswagen is funding a charging network rollout in the US, and has also teamed up BMW, Daimler and Ford to make an EV network in Europe - both of which sit alongside Tesla's brand-specific Superchargers.