The German government has set a goal to have one million electric cars on the country’s roads by 2020. “We will make our contribution toward this goal,” Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn told reporters this week. However, according to Bloomberg, Winterkorn said that the goal was feasible only if plug-in hybrids are included in that million-vehicle figure.
It’s an ambitious objective in any case. Even conventional hybrids such as the Toyota Prius are far less popular there than in the US and Japan, and German consumers are just beginning to be aware of EVs and PHEVs. VW is by far Europe’s biggest automaker, and it has placed most of its bets on fuel-efficient diesels.
Things have started to crackle in Wolfsburg recently however, perhaps inspired by rival BMW, which is rapidly racking up orders for its forthcoming electric i3, and upstart Tesla, which has just begun German deliveries of its trendsetting Model S.
VW’s e-Up! went on sale in Germany this month for 26,900 euros ($37,000), and the 2015 e-Golf is scheduled to arrive in the second quarter of 2014. The Volkswagen Group also has a pair of PHEVs in the pipeline: the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid (now on sale in Europe) and the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron (scheduled for 2015).
Volkswagen has said that it might offer as many as 40 electric or hybrid models if demand takes off.
Also this week, BMW said it backs the one-million EV goal, but that it will need more support from European governments, which have lagged behind their US and Chinese counterparts. “I hope the ongoing discussions between national governments, the European Parliament and the European Commission lead to a package that’s viable,” said BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer. “At the moment, the commission’s proposals don’t offer incentives to speed up introduction of alternative drives.”