German automaker Volkswagen has been constantly in the news since its emissions testing scandal last year. It cost top executives their jobs and led to irreparable P.R. harm for the brand. Now, VW is fighting back. “Don’t look at our test cheats,” they say. “Look at what we’re going to do with electric.” Volkswagen intends to take on the biggest electric car name in the world, according to Cnet’s Road Show. VW is going after Tesla.
Where is Tesla vulnerable? At the price point. Tesla comes from a high-priced segment, but Elon Musk’s team is moving to less expensive units. Volkswagen hopes to get there first and with more models from which to choose. To make its electric vehicles less expensive, the German company has made significant progress in reducing production costs.
Christian Senger is head of the VW electric-car project. Tuesday afternoon he told Bloomberg, “Offering our electric cars at combustion engine prices is a game changer. We’re using the need to transition from [the] combustion engine to electric cars to reinvent VW brand.”
The electric car is a cornerstone of Volkswagen’s efforts to comply with tightening emission regulations. China is VW’s largest market and is playing a key role in the industry’s move beyond combustion engines. The government there has laid out ambitious targets to fight air pollution, leading to probable quotas for carmakers to produce an inexpensive electric car.
Volkswagen’s newest entrant in this particular car war is called the I.D. It will cost less than $30,000. That’s a lower number than the Tesla Model 3 or the Chevrolet Bolt. The I.D. will go up to 375 miles on a charge. That is all good news and would be even better news if the car was on sale today. Alas, It won’t go on sale until 2020, and it is hard to say how the electric car from the competitors will have improved by then.
In fact, Volkswagen acknowledges that New Year’s Day 2025 will have dawned before its full fleet of EVs will be available. They hope to sell a million units that year. However, if Tesla’s production levels climb as they predict VW’s one million units will fall short of the standard Musk will set.
Is Tesla shaking in its designer boots? No, but are they casting sidelong glances to Wolfsburg, Germany? Oh yes, so let the games begin.