Electric Cars

VW says its EV offensive will launch at exactly the right time

VW will be neither first nor last to introduce mainstream electrics.

Andrew Hoyle/Roadshow

Volkswagen plans to launch its electric-car offensive in a major way at the end of this year, with the ID hatchback that'll be built in Zwickau, Germany. The ID Crozz crossover will subsequently be imported to the US in 2020 and will start local production in late 2022 or early 2023. Is that too late, given how many EVs are already on the market today? Volkswagen Group of America CEO Scott Keogh said at a media roundtable on Monday that actually, VW's cars will arrive at precisely the right moment.

"I don't think we're arriving 10 years early," he said. "But I dramatically prefer that to arriving 15 years too late, like we did with SUVs. I think we're arriving at the right time."

volkswagen-vw-id-crozz-frankfurt

The ID Crozz will reach the US market in 2020.

Andrew Hoyle/Roadshow

Keogh said that VW was far too slow to respond to the crossover and SUV craze in the US, failing to introduce models quickly enough to respond to customer demand. With EVs, the automaker does not want to miss the boat again.

"I think we can put a car on the market that's a proper Volkswagen passenger car, at a proper Volkswagen price, just at the time where I'll say market reaction, market sentiment, consumer acceptance [will be] building," he continued.

Still, VW is going to have a whole lot of competition when it launches; almost every major automaker will or already has launched a mainstream EV. For Keogh, it remains to be seen whether the electric-car market will be dominated by a few huge players, or whether lots of manufacturers will each take a tiny slice of the market.

Volkswagen MEB chassis

The MEB modular chassis that will underpin VW's forthcoming line of electric cars.

Volkswagen

"Is it going to be a series of little vehicles getting one, two points of market share, or who's going to come in at 10, 15 points of share?" he said. "That breakthrough product, we can all admit, has not come yet."

Speaking of breakthrough products, Keogh also said that Volkswagen needs to ensure that it builds cars people actually want. They won't necessarily buy something only because it's electric, so the cars have to be appealing, too.

"Let's make this car cool as shit, let's get a consumer to say, 'I want a cool car,' and that's the dynamic that's worked for most of the products that we know and love," he said. Fortunately, VW has numerous EVs in the pipeline: "We've got a good cadence to keep the action going."

At the same time, VW is opposed to much-rumored plans for the government to end tax credits for electric cars. Keogh said VW has been approached by the feds about its feelings on EV incentives, and that the automaker's stance is clear.

"I think the incentives are needed," he said "I'll tell anyone who'll listen."

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