Volkswagen exec says “tipping point is near” for electric vehicles

Aug 09, 2019

Battery-electric price parity with internal combustion engines will be the tipping point that brings broad market acceptance for the emerging technology – and that tipping point is closer than it may appear, said Reinhard Fischer, senior vice president for Volkswagen Group who heads strategy for VW brand in North America.

Larry P. Vellequette / Auto News Europe / August, 2019

Fischer told Automotive News Europe sister publication Automotive News at the 2019 CAR Management Briefing Seminars in Michigan that Volkswagen’s $50 billion global electric push will bring new scale to EV production, pushing down costs to a point where they reach parity with vehicles powered by internal combustion engines.

“We strongly believe that the tipping point is near, and that tipping point will be price equity” that will drive new consumers to BEVs, not just early adopters.

“Once you overcome the fear of something new, the EV is the better choice for you,” he said.

VW’s 12-brand group, which includes Audi, Porsche and Bentley, said in March it plans to introduce almost 70 full-electric models globally by 2028, accounting for 22 million battery-powered vehicles.

In May, VW revealed the pricing and driving ranges for its first mass-market EV the ID3. The launch-edition ID3 will be priced below 40,000 euros in Germany, excluding government incentives. Other ID3 versions will include an entry-level car priced below 30,000 euros, about the same level as the diesel variant of the Golf hatchback.

“I don’t think it’s going to take a lot of convincing,” Fischer said. “There is a fundamental curiosity. Everybody sees the end state.

“When you put pencil to paper, owning a full-electric vehicle costs about half of what a gas car costs me to operate.”

But in recent VW brand focus groups, held in anticipation of the launch of planned battery EVs, the company found more problems that it must overcome with consumers.

“There is still a fear about driving electric cars through water,” Fischer said. “For 50 years, we’ve educated people that electricity and water don’t mix.”

Another problem: “Range anxiety has now been replaced by charging anxiety,” Fischer said. But he said history shows that this problem will pass.

“A hundred years ago, gasoline was sold at pharmacies. Today, we have 122,000 gas stations in the United States. It’s transformed from a bottleneck to a commodity,” Fischer said. “Electric charging is going to be exactly the same.”