The developing VW scandal has highlighted the lengths to which some automakers will go to find an alternative to electrification. Some industry gadflies have speculated that Volkswagen might opt to redeem itself by becoming a (sorely needed) leader in the electromobility field.
“With hydrocarbon combustion we’ve hit the limits of physics,” Elon Musk told Auto Express. “If I was taking over VW, I’d go the other way and aim to be a leader [in clean vehicles].”
Musk obviously doesn’t agree with car company execs who whine to regulators that electrification will bankrupt them. “All car companies will go electric eventually,” he said. “Any car company that doesn’t go electric will be out of business.”
Now an analysis by Lux Research points out that, ironically, VW has great potential to be an EV trendsetter. The company has already announced plans to produce as many as 20 more plug-in vehicles by 2020, and has been investing in next-generation battery technologies, including lithium-sulfur and solid-state.
“VW is actually in a strong position to innovate their way out of this mess,” write Lux analysts. “They have been spending the most on R&D of any OEM (about $11 billion in 2013), and they are the largest automaker by volume. Arguably, no major OEM is better positioned than they are to decisively accelerate the push towards plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, putting the shine back on their tarnished image.”
However, before we all shout “Let’s do it!” and march out of the VW boardroom into the brave green future, to the strains of inspiring music, let’s read the rest of what Lux has to say:
“VW probably lacks the vision, leadership, and ambition to do it, so they will most likely carry on as usual after some apologies.”