Electric Volkswagen Phaeton Delayed ’til 2020


One consequence of the Volkswagen diesel cheating scandal is that the company is slashing costs in order to pay for fixing its non-conforming cars as well as the fines and penalties that are sure to come. That means development of the next VW Phaeton has been put on hold. It won’t go on sale now until 2020 at the earliest.

The company says the Phaeton will be “the flagship of the brand’s profile over the next decade” and will feature “pure electric drive with long distance capability and next-generation connectivity and assistance systems”. It will share its platform architecture, drive system and battery technology with the upcoming Audi Q6 e-tron, according to Autocar.

The Q6 e-tron uses three electric motors with a total of 496 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. One motor powers the front wheels, while each rear wheel gets its own motor. The arrangement allows for precise control of the amount of power transmitted to the wheels in a process known as “torque vectoring.” When it finally goes on sale, it will be offered as an alternative to the Tesla Model S and the Mercedes S Class.

The Phaeton was first introduced in 2002. It is assembled by hand in a special factory in Dresden by technicians wearing white uniforms and sometimes white gloves. The model features hand-selected wood veneers in the interior and seats adjustable in 18 different ways. The Phaeton was always the pet project of former Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piech, whose autocratic style may be at the heart of diesel emissions cheating scandal. Piech was forced out in April of 2015 by Martin Winterkorn, who himself has since been let go as a result of the cheating scandal.

“There is always the element of the Phaeton being the answer to a question no one ever asked,” Tim Urquhart, a London-based analyst for IHS Automotive tells Bloomberg.  “Who wants a VW limousine?” The $100,000 car reached its sales peak in 2011 and has seen its popularity sink slowly downward ever since. But for Volkswagen’s desire to have a car that can compete with the Tesla Model S, the Phaeton probably would have slipped into obscurity by now, an automotive anomaly whose time never came and is already long gone.


Source | Images: VW, via Bloomberg.

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.