VW will be 70 per cent BEV by 2030 - but 'we still need combustion engines for a while'
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Volkswagen intends Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) to make up 70 per cent of its new-vehicle sales in Europe by 2030. But unlike Jaguar and Volvo, it isn't abandoning development of the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) just yet.
According to Volkswagen Group chief executive Ralf Brandstatter, the ICE will continue in the company's research and development programmes in parallel with BEVs: "We will still need combustion engines for a while, but they should be as efficient as possible, which is why the next generation of our core products – all of which are world models – will also be fitted with the latest generation of plug-in hybrid technology, with an electric range of up to 100km.”
That means that the current generation of mainstream models like Golf, Tiguan, Passat, Tayron and T-Roc will all have successors with petrol engines, albeit with hybrid technology.
The boost for BEVs will come from VW's new ID brand. It has already launched the ID.3, a Golf-sized hatchback, and the ID.4 medium SUV (both models still some time away for NZ though - 2022 at the earliest). From now on, VW will launch at least one BEV per year.
The AWD ID.4 GTX will come in the first half of this year, followed by a sporty ID.5 in the second half. The ID.6 Cross, a seven-seat SUV for the Chinese market, will be launched in the last quarter of 2021. However, plans for a BEV smaller and cheaper than the ID.3 have been pushed out to 2025.
VW calls its new business plans Transform 2025+ and Accelerate. It says it will focus on "brand value", "scalable platforms" and "valuable enterprise".
One of the biggest changes will be that VW will become a big-volume software company.
"To this end, VW is spearheading the development of the customer-centric digital ecosystem, with the ID family blazing the trail... the ID Digital agile project will provide over-the-air updates every 12 weeks starting in summer 2021. These will enable the vehicle to remain up to date throughout its life cycle and become better and better with new functions.
"A fully networked fleet of over 500,000 vehicles is expected to be on the road in just two years’ time, through which VW will be able to transmit direct customer feedback to new functions."
VW says it will continuously optimise the Modular Electric Drive Toolkit (MEB) with improvements in acceleration, charging capacity and range. Volkswagen will also play to its strengths as a platform champion in the next generation of a high-performance all-electric drive toolkit for flat vehicles – the Scalable Systems Platform . This will be deployed in 2026 for the first time in a new flagship vehicle, Trinity.
Trinity will enable "Level 2+" automated driving from the outset and Level 4 in the future, says Brandstatter. “Trinity will become a kind of time machine for our customers, saving them time and stress. However, this technology must not become the preserve of a select elite, which is why we are scaling it to make it available for many people."
Selling around six million vehicles per year gives the company the critical mass it needs to scale autonomous driving and roll it out worldwide. Starting with Trinity in 2026, VW says it will "establish a neural network across its fully networked vehicle fleet", where vehicles will continuously exchange data on traffic, obstacles or accidents.