Volkswagen may still evoke “Diesel scandal” before any other association, but the German auto giant is hard at work making its name synonymous with the future of mobility. The effort was clearest in the release of its strategy for 2025 that calls for 30 new electric cars by that date. Ahead of the Paris Motor Show, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess sought to keep the public’s eye on this aspect of the company by confirming a very long-range EV in the works and ready for viewing by late September.
Diess dropped the notice in an interview with German paper Wirtschafts Woche (per Electrek) and pulled out specifics, including the car’s projected range between 248 and 372 miles, which is enough to give enthusiasts hope of reaching heights only Tesla has come close to in the past. VW’s chief added he saw the car heading into production by 2018 or 2019 and, given the massive demand it would put on battery production, forcing the automaker to find in-house solutions across the board.
Finally, Diess told the German newspaper the car would feature the space of a Passat on the footprint of a Golf. At this point, electric car newshounds probably recognize a summary of all EVs either in production or in concept form. There is the groundbreaking range for a moderately priced plug-in (better even than the 250-mile Hyundai); the stretched-out spaciousness GM designers pushed for in the Chevy Bolt EV; and the finish-by date promised by Ford and Nissan for similar models.
While pricing is never mentioned for a car expected so far into the future, we assume it would be priced below $40,000, which would be possible given projected drops in battery costs. Looking ahead, VW’s timeline does not put it far behind the rest of the pack.
Were the Volkswagen 300-mile EV concept to make it to market by 2018, the only competitor guaranteed to have a similar product on the road by then is GM with the Bolt EV, though the Chevy is only aiming for 200 miles. Tesla, for all its ambitious plans and projected 2017 release date for the Model 3 (215 miles), has yet to show a completed prototype of its vehicle for the masses. Nissan and Ford both are expected to be in the game by 2018 or 2019 with an affordable EV of about 200 miles.
So 300 miles, or even the 250 miles at the low end of the Volkswagen chief’s estimate, would make it a remarkable plug-in offering, indeed. The appeal of a midsize sedan’s roominess on a compact vehicle platform will become apparent once the Bolt EV hits the market late in 2016, but it’s safe to say smaller models like the e-Golf are unlikely to catch on with the larger vehicle-buying public.
In fact, it would seem that those companies planning electric vehicles several years into the future would shoot for the wildly popular crossover segment, as Tesla said it would in its new master plan. Yet there will be always be ample room in the market for sedans that handle well and maintain a small footprint, especially as cities get more hard-pressed for space in the coming years. If the rumors are true, Volkswagen’s stand will be a hot ticket at the Paris Motor Show this fall.
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