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How much of a change is VW’s promised pivot to plug-ins?


Demoralized by its diesel deception, will Volkswagen now get serious about EVs?

“Arguably, no major OEM is better positioned than VW to decisively accelerate the push towards plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles,” Lux Research recently noted, “[However], they will most likely carry on as usual after some apologies.”

This week, VW’s board of directors released a plan to repair the company’s fortunes that includes a couple of promising steps toward the electrified future, and optimistic opinion-makers hailed the company’s “dramatic pivot.”

The board’s statement foresees a focus on “plug-in hybrids with an even greater range,” and “high-volume electric vehicles with a radius of up to 300 kilometers.” A future generation of the flagship Phaeton luxury sedan will feature a pure electric version.

EVs and PHEVs will have their own dedicated platform (presumably derived from the existing MQB): “An MEB electric toolkit for future use in compact segment vehicles is to be developed…This will be a multi-brand toolkit suitable for both passenger cars and light commercial vehicles and will thus leverage synergies from other electric vehicle projects in the Group. The standardized system will be designed for all body structures and vehicle types, thus allowing particularly emotional vehicle concepts, and will enable an all-electric range of 250 to 500 kilometers.”

This is all good news, but keep the electrolytic Champagne in the bottle for now – VW’s statement is far from an exclusive embrace of electrification. The company has no intention of dropping diesels. It will “switch over to installing only diesel drives with SCR and AdBlue technology in Europe and North America…equipped with exhaust emissions systems that use the best environmental technology.”

As it continues to develop EV technology (which it was already doing before the scandal), VW will also be working on “a 48-volt power supply system (mild hybrid) as well as ever more efficient diesel, petrol and CNG concepts.”

It may well be that, over time, plug-in vehicles will earn a larger share of VW’s product mix. But for the foreseeable future, they’ll be sharing the stable with the full range of fossil-fueled conveyances. In other words, VW is “carrying on as usual.”


Source: Volkswagen, Green Car Reports, Lux Research, Quartz

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