Tuesday, January 2, 2024

"Volkswagen’s Elusive Quest to Make an EV for the Masses"

On a superficial level there is some real irony in that headline. More seriously, this is a conundrum faced by all the major manufacturers and something that will help determine who the survivors are going to be.

As a side note I saw over the weekend that the Renault 5 was coming back as an EV, so it's not as if people aren't trying.

From the Wall Street Journal, December 31:

The German automaker behind iconic models such as the Beetle is trying to find similar success in the EV market 

Almost a decade ago,Volkswagen set out on an expensive quest to dominate the new world of software-defined cars and build the electric “people’s car.” It is still trying. 

The German automaker has invested billions of euros, retooled entire plants and created new software and battery companies to assist in making the transition. However, VW has yet to produce an EV that has matched the success of its historic gas-powered models such as the Beetle and the Golf in its core markets. 

Sales of its electric flagship, the ID. series, have disappointed. So VW decided against scrapping the 50-year-old Golf, and it is developing an all-electric version that the company said could be launched by the end of the decade.

Building and selling the electric car for “everyman” remains a core mission of Volkswagen, which translates as “people’s car.” In an attempt to reinvigorate VW’s mass appeal, the company is in the midst of a major restructuring so that it can produce profitable, desirable electric vehicles. 

“VW also wants to get very young people excited about the brand,” said Oliver Blume, who has the dual role as chief executive of

and CEO of the entire VW company, which includes VW, Porsche, Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini, in emailed comments.

Other automakers, such as General Motors and Ford Motor, have also been paring their electric ambitions, with some scaling back their production plans.

In VW’s case, Blume has launched a plan to slash 10 billion euros in costs, equivalent to around $11 billion, halt plans to build a new ultramodern EV factory in Wolfsburg and postpone plans for further battery plants in Europe.  

The cuts are aimed at lowering the cost of making vehicles, which would boost earnings and give VW more flexibility to lower prices for entry-level EV buyers. Earlier this year the company unveiled the ID. 2all, a small hatchback that the company says will sell for less than €25,000 and is one of 10 new EVs that VW is slated to launch by 2026. 

“As a young man I was also an enthusiastic Beetle and Polo driver. And there are very many customers who have such positive experiences and develop a close connection to the Volkswagen brand,” Blume said. 

Blume said the company was working to develop a more affordable EV that could sell for €20,000 in the second half of the decade, a move to counter Chinese and other competitors entering the European market with cheap EVs....