What do you do when your “green” vehicle option has been unceremoniously painted a sickly shade of black? You double down on the only other green option in your lineup, and double down hard. At least, that’s what Volkswagen will be doing, in the wake of the scandal that is Dieselgate.
Automotive News reports that the marque is making a significant EV push, a strategy that now is considerably more critical to the company’s success than ever before as it turns out that all of the diesel models sold in the U.S. are actually illegal. If you somehow haven’t been following along. Volkswagen sold nearly half a million vehicles in America that didn’t meet federal emissions standards, and 11 million vehicles world wide that faced the same issue.
Volkswagen spoke of an electric Phaeton sedan, a name familiar to American buyers but one that hasn’t been sold Stateside in some time, as part of its new strategic direction to help the world forget the quagmire that VW is currently floating in. It will be built on platform that’s likely to be shared with the Audi Q6 e-Tron, to better achieve economies of scale.
“The specification features a pure electric drive with long-distance capability, connectivity and next-generation assistance systems as well as an emotional design,” Volkswagen said of the next Phaeton, though it didn’t say anything more on the Phaeton specifically.
“An MEB electric toolkit for future use in compact segment vehicles is to be developed based on the experience gained with existing vehicle architectures. This will be a multi-brand toolkit suitable for both passenger cars and light commercial vehicles and will thus leverage synergies from other electric vehicle projects in the Group,” Volkswagen continued. “The standardized system will be designed for all body structures and vehicle types, thus allowing particularly emotional vehicle concepts, and will enable an all-electric range of 250 to 500 kilometers [155 to 310 miles],” the statement read.
Volkswagen is still committing to its diesel operations, though the company was short and terse about its plans for future oil-burners. “It was decided to switch over to installing only diesel drives with SCR and AdBlue technology in Europe and North America as soon as possible. Diesel vehicles will only be equipped with exhaust emissions systems that use the best environmental technology,” it said.
However, Volkswagen’s EV push comes with a side of bad news too. In order to better position itself for the fallout of the diesel vehicle scandal, Volkswagen will be reducing its R&D spend by $1 billion and initiating 3 billion euros ($3.41 billion) in price cuts from its suppliers to help control costs, Auto News quoted German newspaper Handelsblatt as saying.
“The Volkswagen brand is repositioning itself for the future. We are becoming more efficient, we are giving our product range and our core technologies a new focus, and we are creating room for forward-looking technologies by speeding up the efficiency program,” said VW board chairman Herbert Diess.
Volkswagen doesn’t exactly have an easy road ahead of it. But if we were charged with doing everything possible to make the public forgive and forget some rather grievous violations of tailpipe emissions standards, eliminating the tailpipe altogether would be a pretty good place to start.
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.