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Volkswagen's upcoming all-electric E-Up!

The Audi E-Tron is an electricified version of the Audi R8

Porsche is planning a hybrid/electric variant of its popular 918 Spyder supercar/roadster.
Company says it wants to become the world's leading electric car maker

Germany's Volkswagen AG has long been a pioneer in fuel efficient vehicles – some of its European variant diesel vehicles get well over 60 mpg.  However, it has trailed in hybrid and electric vehicle efforts.  In fact, will just get around to offering its first hybrid vehicle in the U.S. later this year.

At its Electronics Research Laboratory in Palo Alto, California, amid the backdrop of the launch of its sixth-generation VW Jetta compact, the company talked about its transition from being focused on diesel to going for the gold in the electric arena.  Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn comments, "I am deeply convinced Volkswagen will play a key role in electrifying the automotive world."

The company's efforts will be spread across its base consumer brand and its luxury brands -- Audi and the recently acquired Porsche brand.  

VW plans to release a Touareg (SUV) this year and Jetta (sedan) hybrid in 2012.  It will then follow up with hybrid Golf and Passat models in 2013.  In 2011, it plans to start testing a fleet of electric VW Golf vehicles.  VW will also introduce a new electric called the E-Up! .

On the luxury front, Audi will release its first EV, the e-tron.  Meanwhile, Porsche is cooking up hybrid variants of its Cayenne (SUV) and 918 Spyder (roadster).

VW reports that by the time these vehicles hit the market, its electric efforts will be as refined as its diesel ones.  It says that its E-Up! batteries are already capable of running for 93 miles on a charge -- more than the 2011 Chevy Volt's, which can only muster 40 miles on a charge.

Winkerton states, "Our customers are not willing to compromise.  They expect the same high standards from an electric Golf as from a conventional one."

Volkswagen has seen a long slide in sales in America.  Once the top foreign brand -- selling 570,000 vehicles in the U.S. in 1970 -- the company has been gradually displaced by Japanese and Korean automakers who have a better reputation for quality.  Diesel enthusiast still love VW, though, and Volkswagen Group of America increased deliveries by 29 percent to 175,000 vehicles in H1 2010.

The German automaker will soon open a $1B USD plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which will produce the popular Jetta and its upcoming hybrid variant.  The plant will mark VW's first auto-production facility in the U.S. since it shut the doors on its Pennsylvania assembly plant in 1988.

Volkswagen has set a relatively lofty goal of selling 800,000 VW-brand vehicles and 200,000 Audis annually in the United States by 2018 -- over twice current sales levels.  Winkerton states, "We want to take Volkswagen to the top of the industry by 2018. ... We know that the United States is one of our main destinations on our way to the top."

The company realizes that diesel will not necessarily win many new customers, so its hoping its shift to electric will win new business.



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RE: This is a nice change
By Spuke on 7/20/2010 6:17:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
City cars are ideal for congested US cities where traffic barely moves at walking speed on average during rush hour.
You chastise him for making a blanket assumption then you do just the same. LOL! Looking at how Americans actually make their vehicle purchases instead of wishing and hoping, we see that Americans vastly prefer their compact and mid sized sedans. It would behoove an automaker that chooses to sell a vehicle here to make what people want.

Americans have demonstrated time and time again that subcompacts are not desired. Not for lack of trying by the automakers though. They test the water every so often by flushing a billion or two down the toilet to see if we'll bite. I prefer a lighter car over a heavier one myself but I am an enthusiast and part of a niche market. I don't represent the 100,000+ people a month that buy Camry's, Accord's, Civic's and Corolla's.

BTW, about half of the US lives in a metro area and the other half lives in a rural area. If I'm not mistaken, a metro area, according to the US Census, is a city with a population larger than 100,000. I may be wrong on the exact number but it's not LA or San Francisco type numbers.

So, given facts and history, city cars may not be the best route for Americans but as far as I'm concerned, that's irrelevant. What's relevant is what people will actually buy. And a simple search will reveal that. If someone wants a city car, then have at it. Maybe VW or someone will be willing to flush a bill for that market.


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