Ever heard of Dieselgate? Volkswagen Group (e.g. Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche), installed defeater devices on their diesel vehicles from 2009 to 2016 to cheat EPA emissions tests.
Approximately 500,000 vehicles sneaked past government testing and were sold into the hands of American car buyers (even more were sold in Europe). These vehicles emitted up to 40 times the federal legal limit of Nitrogen Oxide–a powerful and toxic greenhouse gas.
In 2014, California caught wind of Volkswagen’s (VW) emissions scandal and launched a full-blown investigation. After two years, the U.S. government found VW guilty. The scandal broke the news and is now infamously known as Dieselgate.
As such, U.S. regulators have criminally charged eight VW executives. Some executives have even been charged several years to federal prison amongst a few hundred thousand dollars in fines. In addition, regulators charged VW $14.7 billion in fines. Not only did VW have to create a car buyback program for affected customers, but VW is also obligated to create an electric vehicle initiative to help promote the adoption of electric vehicles.
This initiative, while mandated by government regulators, is a way for VW to atone to the American people for its wrongdoing. In a two-prong approach, VW created a plan to produce millions of electric vehicles (EVs) within the next few years as well as create a nationwide DC Fast Charging network.
Let’s dive into the details:
Volkswagen’s Electric Car Plans:
In an effort to repent, VW quickly announced to the world that it will produce EVs. Per Electrek, VW pledged in 2016 to make two to three million EVs worldwide per year by 2025. Since EVs are much, much cleaner than their diesel counterparts, especially the Dieselgate vehicles, VW quickly made an attempt to re-brand to regain customer trust.
So how are they doing today? Well, in 2019 VW only managed to produce one EV model (e-Golf) and sell less than 5,000 of them in the U.S. per InsideEVs. While it is still a few years away from 2025, the clock is ticking.
On the contrary, VW has revealed several concept vehicles promised for production. So much so that users on Reddit often refer to VW’s concept EVs as “vaporware” since not a single one has actually been made and sold yet.
Volkswagen’s ID Series:
VW’s new concept EVs has taken the series name “ID”, which stands for Intelligent Design. This new series is built on the all-new and all-electric vehicle platform called the Modular Electric Toolkit Chassis, or MEB for short. As of today, VW has previewed several concepts on this new platform such as the ID Neo (now called ID.3), ID Crozz (speculated called ID.4), ID Buzz, ID Roomz, ID Space Vizzion, and ID Buggy.
Each of these ID concepts will provide a variety of battery pack sizes that offer a spread of electric range from around 180 to 300+ miles. DC Fast Charging rates will be as high as 125 kW. Segments will range from compact hatchback (ID.3) to mid-size SUV (ID Roomz). Below is a gallery of all the previewed VW electric cars.
The first ID vehicle is the ID.3. Unfortunately for the U.S., this EV will only be available in Europe. The first U.S. bound ID vehicle will be the ID.4. This compact crossover will compete against the Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y.
In addition to the ID.4, the U.S. can expect the ID Buzz, ID Roomz, and ID Vizzon. Starting in 2020 with the ID.4, VW will release a new EV each subsequent year. Below is a table with released/speculated specs of each concept.
At first, VW will export their EVs to the U.S., however, beginning in 2022, VW will complete their all-electric vehicle and battery factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee for local production and distribution. Per TechCrunch, VW invested $800 million to quickly ramp up to speed. As detailed with General Motor’s EV Plans, securing battery supply is key to EV production.
Audi’s Electric Car Plans:
On top of VW Group’s investment in EVs with Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche will go electric in the U.S. Audi has decided to name it’s electric car series as “E-tron”. So far, Audi has announced four models: e-tron Quattro, e-tron Quattro Sportback, e-tron GT, and e-tron Q4.
In 2019, Audi released the first e-tron, the e-tron Quattro or simply “e-tron”. The e-tron is a slow-slung SUV/wagon. With an all electric range of 204 miles, it certainly does not fair well against the Tesla Model X’s range of 328 miles.
It is important to note, per GreenCarReports, the Model X may actually have more range than the EPA sticker–possibly closer to 380 miles. Tesla is notorious for constantly updating their vehicles to improve efficiency throughout the year rather than waiting for each model year increments.
The starting price is $74,800 before incentives. Of course, Audi, like Volkswagen, still has the full tax credit of $7,500 making them more budget-friendly than Tesla.
The other e-tron EVs (e-tron Sportback, GT, and Q4) are set to be released within the next two years starting with the Sportback. As with the e-tron, pricing is speculated to slightly undercut comparative Tesla vehicles, however, Tesla will still reign in overall range, efficiency, and DCFC rates.
Speaking of DCFC, the maximum DCFC rate on the e-tron series is 150 kW. Since Audi has ties to Electrify America, it makes sense they have embedded super quick DCFC capability in their EVs. More on Electrify America down below.
Porsche’s Electric Car Plans:
Moving on to Porsche, the first BEV will be the Taycan. Originally codenamed “Mission E’, the Taycan is set to compete against the Tesla Model S and next-gen Roadster. The Taycan offers slightly over 200 miles of range, however, claims it can charge up to 350 kW while DCFC.
Again, it appears VW Group is pairing its technology across its various companies. The Taycan will go on sale at the end of the year. The second EV from Porsche will be the Macan EV. Per Motor1, the Macan EV will go on sale in 2021, though limited information about range or pricing are available.
In the second EV initiative, VW created a nation-wide DC Fasting Charging (DCFC) network called Electrify America. With a budget of $2 billion over the next 10 years, Electrify America aims to rapidly catch up to Tesla. However, unlike Tesla, Electrify America provides universal, non-proprietary plugs (ChaDeMo and CCS) so everyone can charge no matter the manufacturer.
Split into a National and California plan, Electrify American created a network of DCFC stations. Each DCFC station has multiple chargers like gas stations. Each charger is capable of speeds up to 150 kW and 350 kW.
For reference, the latest V3 Tesla Supercharger can charge at 250 kW, which provides around 230 miles of range in 30 minutes per MotorTrend. This is a large improvement from today’s non-Tesla DCFC rate of just 50 kW, which provides around 60 miles of range in 30 minutes.
While only a select few electric cars can charge at 150+ kW rate, Electrify America smartly future-proofed their stations to accommodate the next generation of EVs. As of lately, all-new EVs beginning in 2020 will all have DCFC rates of 125+ kW. You can read more about these future electric cars at trucks at these articles: Top 8 New Electric Vehicles in 2020 and Nine Electric Trucks by 2023.
Furthermore, Electrify America has smartly installed their charging stations at common urban and highway destinations surrounded by other amenities. While charging, EV owners can grab a bite to eat or use the restroom.
Electrify America claims 96% of Americans live near 130 miles of one of their stations. Take a look at the Plugshare map below to find nearby Electrify America charging stations near you.
Most importantly, InsideEVs reports that just within 20 months, Electrify America has installed 400 DCFC stations, comprised of 3,500 individual chargers. This is an incredible feat in just a short amount of time. You can learn more about the National and California Plan at Electrify America.
In summary, VW has big electric car plans. Not only will VW mass-produce long-range, affordable EVs, but they will also invest billions into a universal nation-wide charging network. However, many note Dieselgate is to blame for VW’s sudden change of heart. Nevertheless, it is still a great thing for the electric car revolution.
Personally, when I was browsing for an EV in 2017, not only were there a limited number of models available within my budget that had a range of over 200 miles (just the Chevy Bolt in fact), but there was a lack of a comprehensive DCFC network.
Today, Electrify America has changed the game. With several affordable, long-range EVs available, the ability to charge along the highway while on a road trip is possible. Just a few years ago, only Tesla’s EVs could travel long distances.
Moreover, I am also looking forward to seeing the rollout of the VW ID series. If they can truly mass-produce these long-range and truly affordable electric cars, then they may have just as big of an impact on the auto industry as Tesla has as of lately.
Similar to GM, VW has invested billions into electric cars. Volkswagen’s dedicated all-electric platform spans across their subbrands. In addition, the deployment of Electrify America settles range anxiety while traveling long distances.
At this point, it is supremely clear the future is electric.
So what do you think of Volkswagen’s Electric Car Plans? Do you believe they have atoned for Dieselgate? Let me know in the comments below.
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