Volkswagen Will Lead With 20 New Plug-ins & Digital Technology

Volkswagen Phaeton will be a plug-in hybrid

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn was in an expansive mood at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week. He said in a press release, “We are in the process of reinventing Europe’s largest automaker, laying the technological, economic and structural foundations.” Winterkorn said Volkswagen will have a total of 20 electric and plug-in hybrid models on the road by 2020. They will run the gamut from compact cars to large sedans like the next Phaeton and Audi A8. “No commitment to electro-mobility can be any clearer than that,” he said.

But that wasn’t the end of his statement. He went on to say Volkswagen Group already is at the forefront when it came to the future and digital technology. “Our Group already has the largest connected vehicle fleet on the road. By 2020 we will have transformed all of our new cars into smart phones on wheels.” (Note that he said “smart phones,” while Teslas have what seem to be mammoth tablets built into their cars.) He added that digital technology has already been part of Volkswagen’s DNA for a long time. “Connectivity and state of the art infotainment have already made their way into all our brands and classes.”

“At a time of major social and technological upheaval, people expect new answers, new solutions and new directions from us.” He said the Audi e-tron quattro and Porsche Mission E concepts that were introduced in Frankfurt “are nothing less than a quantum leap for our industry.” Both vehicles have an all-electric range of more than 300 miles (on the NEDC). He went on to say that the “new Volkswagen Tiguan GTE embodies our determination to systematically take the plug-in hybrid to further classes and segments.”

The chairman also had some words for political leaders and policymakers. Volkswagen has created the first 800-volt charging system for its cars. Called Turbo Charging for Porsche and V-Charge for Volkswagen products, these forward-looking concepts and technologies allow 80% battery charging in just 15 minutes. Winterkorn said: “We have the right cars. Now what is needed is the right framework for this key technology to really catch on.”

Winterkorn was clearly implying that governments need to do more to support the green car revolution than just imposing tough new emissions standards. Presumably, he was implying a need for EV charging infrastructure and policies that can support 800-volt charging. What are the odds that politicians and political leaders will be persuaded by his words?

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.