Just a week after claiming diesel technology will “see a renaissance in the not-too-distant future,” Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller said his company is prepared to bestow “practically one new electric model per month” on a world that’s apparently fallen out of love with diesel.
It’s a jarring change of tone from comments made at the Geneva Motor Show, but Müller’s not talking about next month or next year. Once the company’s MEB platform electric vehicles hit full production, he claims, expect the product floodgates to open. We’ve grown properly cynical about lofty EV promises, as well as the public’s supposed unquenchable desire for said vehicles, but Müller insists it’s the real deal.
Backing up the CEO’s claim, Volkswagen apparently has suppliers lined up to make it happen.
Speaking to a Berlin audience during the company’s annual media conference, Müller said the revamp of multiple production sites will mean some 300 electrified models by 2030, Autocar reports. A long way off, for sure, but the first dedicated VW EV, the I.D., hits the road in just two years. The remaining three I.D. models will launch by 2022, at which point production goes into overdrive, Müller claimed.
Many of the vehicles won’t be standalone models; rather, they’ll be plug-in hybrid or electric variants added to existing model ranges. There’s retooling coming to nine production sites by 2020, with seven more added by 2022. VW aims to create further production capacity “once market demand allows this” — an admission that these lofty product goals remain dependent on a buying public.
Hedging the company’s bets, Müller said the internal combustion engine isn’t in danger of disappearing anytime soon.
“Our drivetrains will be designed in such a way that this will be met without paying fines,” he said, referring to ban-happy European jurisdictions. “And we will make sure that the conventional, traditional drivetrain will be modernised, so they will make a contribution to better air quality in our towns and cities as well.”
To ensure future engines emit less greenhouse gasses and smog-causing particulate, VW’s chief financial officer, Frank Witter, said there’s a pile of cash set aside for the engines’ development. These are the diesels Europeans will apparently fall in love with all over again.
There’s also cash, some $25 billion of it, earmarked for a list of suppliers that will provide the necessary battery components and materials, Bloomberg reports. While it has suppliers lined up for its Asian and European production sites, VW it still hasn’t secured the necessary supply chain for EVs built in North America. The company claims it wants EV batteries that use less cobalt — a mineral that’s vital to lithium-ion battery production, and one’s that forecasted to become scarce (and expensive) as automakers plunge headlong into electric vehicle production. It’s also a material fraught with nagging human rights issues.