The Germans are coming and I predict they will win the electric vehicle war.
Our Teutonic friends are famous for their precision engineering and brilliant technology teams, and they are now on target to dominate the EV market with cars we will all want to buy.
Remember that iconic VW TV advert with the Princess Diana lookalike from 1987?
Directed by David Bailey, it shows Diana, aka the leggy model Paula Hamilton, storming out of a mews house, relationship over, petulantly chucking away her wedding ring, pearl necklace, and mink coat. She hesitates, and instead of throwing her VW keys down the drain keeps hold of them, before driving off in her trusty, reliable Mark II Golf.
“If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen.”
I used to own a VW Kombi Ute and it never broke down. Fantastic prospecting wagon even though I often had to crawl under the back to start it with a screwdriver. But it was super reliable and never let me down.
Well VW’s boss Herbert Diess is aware as any that this car company’s heritage is one of its most powerful assets. The firm that brought us the Beetle, the camper van for the Woodstock generation, and the Golf GTI for the yuppies of the 80s, is at a serious crossroads.
The emissions scandal wreaked terrible damage on the brand. Not only did the car company look crooked, but a brand that had been meticulously crafted over generations was called into question. Billions had been spent telling the world that VWs are fun, reliable, honest and down to earth.
Even worse, the trust that had been placed in the company evaporated overnight as VW owners were turned into agents of the very thing they sought to avoid – dirty polluters of the atmosphere.
And so the reputation rebuild begins with the vigour that only a crisis can generate.
Consumers will have a short memory of the emissions scandal, despite the US Government attempt to grab a mind blowing fine to fatten Washington’s coffers (whilst conveniently letting their Detroit industry off the hook).
VW’s new boss Herbert Diess has revealed plans to create “the Volkswagen for the digital age.”
At the heart of this project is an ambition to create a radical new electric vehicle by 2019, as iconic as a Golf, and at a price that puts it in reach of the mid market.
Details are sketchy at the moment but we do know that they’re aiming for 300+ mile range.
This is a big deal for VW and the global auto industry.
And VW have the mega bucks for this audacious 300 mile+ goal. After all, they sold nearly 10 million vehicles last year and turned over almost $250 Billion.
Range has hampered overall EV development for too long. Nobody really wants to park their Tesla in the Holiday Inn carpark at Heathrow for 2 hours to fuel up for the journey home. No matter how much the Tesla-heads brush this off, it’s the number one problem facing the EV industry right now.
VW can get this sorted. Their engineers are famously obsessive, and will relish the opportunity to do some pretty nifty things with lithium and next generation battery tech.
A month ago, VW announced the BUDD-e, a good looking a full electric van with a massive battery and 373 miles on a full charge at a stonking 93 mph. Discount the range a bit because Europe and US reporting standards and VW is starting to kick butt.
And the Germans at VW will certainly share their smarts with the other German auto giants of Mercedes, Porsche and Audi who are also fast tracking their EV efforts.
But the impact of a 300+ mile range rapid charge car will be worth it for the huge uptick in adoption. Thanks to Elon the electric vehicle is now cool, but watch how the Germans take the lead in this global EV war.
Now, let’s get Miss Hamilton out of retirement for some new VW ads.