VW looks back to TDI for pricing on upcoming electric vehicles

September 24, 2018

Volkswagen, as it develops several vehicles on its new modular electric platform (MEB) and plans dozens more, is looking past Tesla and aiming to go “Electric for All.”

The affordability that once made the automaker famous with the original Beetle, the Type 2 "Microbus," and tens of millions of Golfs, Jettas, and other models over decades, also will apply to its electric cars.

In laying out some of the fundamentals of that platform, which it hopes will underpin 10 million vehicles globally by 2030, affordability was a key consideration, the automaker said Thursday in Dresden, Germany.

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In a nutshell, according to Thomas Ulbrich, the member of the VW Group Board of Management responsible for e-mobility, the goal is “electric vehicles for millions, not millionaires.”

VW ID family

VW ID family


To that, Ulbrich laid out a simple rule for the pricing of vehicles that are part of the MEB electric-car architecture family: they will be at the level of a comparable diesel car.

“And then we are sure we can convince millions, because then it is no longer a price range for special customers,” Ulbrich asserted.

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Another official hinted that Volkswagen's pricing won’t trap buyers into buying more (costly) battery than they need.

In recent years, just prior to Volkswagen's diesel scandal, the premium for Volkswagen’s TDI diesel still could be significant. For instance, a 2015 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T SE started at $19,815, while a 2015 Jetta TDI SE started at $24,895—a 25-percent increase. It’s not clear whether such a future pricing difference would include incentives like the $7,500 federal EV tax credit. Volkswagen isn’t yet close to reaching its 200,000-unit ceiling for the credit.

VW E-Golf production

VW E-Golf production


While several other automakers have developed standalone platforms for electric vehicles many years ago—Nissan with the Leaf and BMW with the i3, for example—Ulbrich said that the technology for volume production has finally arrived and is proven in the current e-Golf. He spoke from the plant in Dresden that VW calls the Transparent Factory—"the Glass House"—that was originally built to assemble the Phaeton sedan but since 2017 has been producing only e-Golfs, currently at a rate of about 72 per day.

The effort, which Ulbrich called “the biggest e-offensive in the automotive sector ever,” will include 50 battery electric vehicles by 2025, plus another 30 plug-in hybrids. Those EVs will be developed with MEB underpinnings and the potential for choice between rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, and among several battery capacities and driving ranges.

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