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EV industry domination for Volkswagen begins with the e-Golf and e-up!

The electric vehicle market is just starting to gain traction in the United States, and companies like Tesla Motors, Nissan, and General Motors are so far leading the way.

However, Volkswagen wants a piece of EV action and has announced some pretty optimistic claims regarding its prospects in the market. The company intends to be the EV industry leader by 2018.
Volkswagen has traditionally emphasized diesel power for its green vehicle segment, as witnessed by recent comments regarding the U.S. government’s indifference towards diesels. However, during the Frankfurt Motor Show Volkswagen unveiled a pair of new production electric vehicles including an electric version of the Golf dubbed the e-Golf (it will arrive in the U.S. in early 2015) and the e-Up.

Volkswagen e-Golf

The Volkswagen e-Golf features LED headlights and uses an 85 kW electric motor which can accelerate the vehicle to 60 mph in 10 seconds and to a top speed of 87 mph. The e-Golf can travel 118 miles on a full charge.

The e-up uses a 60 kW electric motor, features a top speed of 81 mph, and can travel 100 miles on a charge.

“We have developed the know-how for electric motors and battery systems at our own components plants, we have recruited 400 top experts for electric traction and qualified almost 70,000 development, production and service employees in this new technology — the biggest electrification training program in our industry,” Winterkorn said.

Volkswagen has a decade-long plan to more than triple the number of vehicles it sells in the United States. That's a tall order considering that sales for Volkswagen are down 1.3% through August.

Sources: Detroit News, Volkswagen

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By Argon18 on 9/11/2013 11:35:03 AM , Rating: 2
Electric cars suck, they aren't there yet. Limited range and long recharge times make internal combustion the superior choice for consumers. Everybody wants clean and green, but when it comes down to it, nobody wants to sacrafice utility. Not to mention the ecological disaster involved in manufacturing all these large batteries.

Instead of this pie in the sky technology that doesn't work, VW should instead combine their excellent TDI clean diesel engines, with hybrid systems. A diesel/electric hybrid will deliver 80+ MPG in a mid sized sedan, without any of the hassles of pure electric.

RE: why?
By Florinator on 9/11/2013 11:49:06 AM , Rating: 2
Have you heard of the White Zombie? It's a 1972 Datsun with a custom electric drivetrain that does 0-60 in 2.95 seconds! :-) WOOT

RE: why?
By JediJeb on 9/11/2013 6:59:45 PM , Rating: 2
How far can it go on a charge?

RE: why?
By bildan on 9/11/2013 12:39:15 PM , Rating: 2
This isn't about the EV's found in showrooms now. It's about those available 5 years from now.

If you follow laboratory developments, it's clear at least one of the hundreds of battery development tracks being investigated will deliver at least a 2x improvement in energy density. Battery-only range only has to improve by a factor of 2 and window sticker price by 30% to make EV's the best deal in the market.

Battery packs will be just like the hard drive or processor in a PC - they're upgradeable. By the time a Tesla Model S needs a battery replacement, an owner will be able to choose twice the range at the same cost or the same range at half the cost.

RE: why?
By Shig on 9/11/2013 1:30:51 PM , Rating: 2
The Germans aren't stupid. They see the threat that is Tesla Motors and they are preparing.

Anyone who doesn't see Tesla Motors as a significant threat is going to be hurting later.

RE: why?
By Solandri on 9/11/2013 1:54:53 PM , Rating: 2
The problem for Germany is that electricity there costs about US$0.35/kWh vs US$0.12/kWh in the U.S. A 3x difference. Meanwhile their gas costs only about 2x what it does in the U.S. (just shy of $8/gal, vs about $3.50/gal)

So the economics favor EVs more in the U.S. than in Germany despite the ginormous fuel taxes they have. They're going to have to rely on foreign sales of their EVs to push this technology, rather than domestic (German) sales.

That's what happens when you push a bunch of uneconomical electricity-generating technologies simply because they're green. It undermines the economics for green technologies on the consumption side. For comparison, electricity in France and the UK costs about US$0.20/kWh.

RE: why?
By Shig on 9/11/2013 2:03:07 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know how to respond to this post. You don't really have a solid understanding of how electricity markets actually work. You're evaluating a problem with a handful of variables when there are thousands to consider.

Or if you actually went to Europe you'd see that most people aren't even driving, they take public transportation. You basically have to be rich to have a car in any major Euro city.

The German economy has always been based off exports...did you even look at what % of BMWs and Mercedes are sold outside the country?

So much wrong with your post it's boggling my mind.

RE: why?
By SublimeSimplicity on 9/11/2013 2:12:01 PM , Rating: 2
That's where solar comes in. $/kW panel prices have been dropping at an extraordinary rate. The more electric rates rise, the more attractive they become.

Gasoline engines have hit the point that significant gains in economy are not going to happen. EV (specifically battery) and solar tech are still in their infancy and improving rapidly. The economics are already close today, as the tech continues to improve its the inevitable conclusion.

RE: why?
By Nutzo on 9/11/2013 3:21:35 PM , Rating: 2
Solar panels make the $0.35 /kw prices look cheap by comparison.

Without the massive government subsidies (i.e. the taxpayers), most people will never break even on the cost.

RE: why?
By mellomonk on 9/11/2013 4:42:17 PM , Rating: 2
Solar panels make the $0.35 /kw prices look cheap by comparison. Without the massive government subsidies (i.e. the taxpayers), most people will never break even on the cost.

Your post demonstrates ignorance of photovoltaic costs and related. PV panels have nearly zero costs related after the initial manufacture and installation. Figure the average output over the useful life of the panel (avg warranty 25 years) and calculate a rough total output. Now divide the cost of the intallation by that output. Even in cloudy Germany, it is going to be an order of magnitude cheaper then $0.35/kw. Photovoltaic generation is very cheap when you consider the average life and output, but you have to get over the initial hump of the cost. The subsidies were put in place to spur the industry and adoption and it is working well. The Germans calculated that even with the subsidies they will come out ahead in the long run when you look at the costs related to building power plants, pipelines, coal trains, as well as the environmental costs of conventional generation methods, fracking, energy price volatility, and on and on.
And to think, Germany solar energy potential is but a fraction of the relatively sunny US. Even without the heavy subsidies some progressive US companies as well as the US military are doing the math and investing for the future. The problem here is folks who cannot see the big picture and cannot do the big math. The same folks know the price of everything and value of nothing.

RE: why?
By Solandri on 9/11/2013 9:06:13 PM , Rating: 2
Your post demonstrates ignorance of photovoltaic costs and related. PV panels have nearly zero costs related after the initial manufacture and installation. Figure the average output over the useful life of the panel (avg warranty 25 years) and calculate a rough total output. Now divide the cost of the intallation by that output. Even in cloudy Germany, it is going to be an order of magnitude cheaper then $0.35/kw.

Well, not an order of magnitude cheaper, but if you do the math over 25 years, it ends up around $0.10/kWh for the U.S. Capacity factor in Germany is about 0.11 vs 0.145 for the U.S., so the absolute wholesale price of PV electricity in Germany would be about $0.13/kWh. (This is ignoring maintenance and interest - either on the loan you took out to buy the setup, or lost opportunity cost on the cash you paid up-front.)

Once you factor in interest and markup to retail prices, PV electricity ends up pretty close to the $0.35/kWh the Germans are paying.
The Germans calculated that even with the subsidies they will come out ahead in the long run when you look at the costs related to building power plants, pipelines, coal trains

For comparison, coal (plant + interest + operations + fuel) costs about $0.03-$0.04/kWh. Nuclear (plant + interest + operations + fuel) costs about $0.04-$0.05/kWh. Decommissioning adds about $0.01-$0.02/kWh (San Onofre is going to be at about $0.02 due to its short lifespan). Wind is around $0.05-$0.09/kWh, though it has a lot of variability depending on location. Hydro is down around $0.02-$0.03/kWh.

You can make an argument that the cleaner air is worth the extra $0.20/kWh, but it absolutely is not true that you will come out ahead on cost with PV solar over other sources. Pretty much every study on electricity generation costs put PV solar at 2x-5x the price per kWh of other sources.

RE: why?
By Reflex on 9/11/2013 3:11:49 PM , Rating: 2
Driving my diesel Jeep as my daily vehicle costs me about $3500/year in fuel costs.

Driving a Tesla would cost me about $360/year in fuel costs.

Electric prices could go way, way higher than they are now and it would still be advantageous for me to go electric over ICE. I highly doubt German electricity costs would be much of a barrier to the average German given just how much cheaper it is.

RE: why?
By Spuke on 9/11/2013 7:11:25 PM , Rating: 2
Driving a Tesla would cost me about $360/year in fuel costs.
I'm assuming you mean electricity costs? And is this on top of what you already pay?

RE: why?
By Reflex on 9/12/2013 6:35:19 PM , Rating: 2
Yes I meant electricity. And yes, it would cost that much on top of existing electric bills.

Given my daily commute is about 30 miles, I could even go with a Leaf or Volt and avoid the super high Tesla price, but lose out on style of course. ;)

RE: why?
By JediJeb on 9/11/2013 7:11:27 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is, or will become, that the government taxes gasoline/diesel like crazy. Once EVs begin to dominate the market, those taxes will switch from petroleum based fuels to electricity. If the government wants to bring in the same tax revenue per mile driven as they do currently on gasoline, what will that do to electricity prices? We are already seeing some states trying to tax EVs to cover their usage of the highways that they are getting by with not paying since they don't use gasoline. Maybe electricity taxes won't go up to cover the total tax burden, but taxes on tires and washer fluid and any other consumable an EV will use will be taxed to death.

It may be cheaper to operate EVs now, but I don't think it will stay that way.

RE: why?
By Solandri on 9/11/2013 9:32:45 PM , Rating: 2
The government taxes gas/diesel like crazy in other countries. But in the U.S., federal + state fuel taxes average about $0.50/gal for gas, $0.55/gal for diesel. Or or around 13.5%. Hardly earth-shattering.

Problem is that's 13.5% the price of a gallon of fuel. According to the EPA, a Jeep will cost you about $3000/yr to fuel, while a Tesla S will cost about $650/yr (not $360 like GP claimed).

13.5% of $3000 is $405. So if you transfer that same tax per vehicle over to the Tesla S (since it presumably damages the road just as much as a Jeep driven the same number of miles), its annual operating costs jump by 55% to $1005/yr. Still much better than gas, but the taxes turn it from a 4.6:1 advantage to a 3.0:1 advantage.

If you compare to a Honda Civic, it only spends $1700/yr in gas. So the Tesla's cost ratio would be 1.7:1 compared to a Civic. (Yeah you could argue I should be using the Civic's fuel taxes, but the Tesla S has a curb weight of 4650 lbs, the Jeep 4000 lbs, and the Civic 2720 lbs. Since road damage scales with vehicle weight, you're actually being generous taxing the Tesla "only" as much as the Jeep gets taxed.)

Of course the Tesla S is a much more spacious and better performing car than the Civic. I just picked two extremes (Jeep and Civic) to give a range for reference.

RE: why?
By Reflex on 9/12/2013 6:37:51 PM , Rating: 2
I will point out that I live in Washington State. Fuel prices tend to be higher here than national average, and diesel prices are a bit higher than that. Electric prices are considerably lower than national average, around $0.09/kWh here, which makes the disparity even further apart. That is why my electric expenses are below your estimate and my fuel cost is higher.

But even at the other extreme, like several northeastern states, the difference is still tremendous.

RE: why?
By toffty on 9/12/2013 10:59:36 AM , Rating: 2
Isn't ignorance bliss?

Real world example. I drive a 2012 Nissan Leaf (EV). My previous car was a 2005 Toyota Prius. I can get 4.9 miles / kWh in my Leaf. I got 45 miles / gal in my Prius.

Cost to drive 10,000 miles (US):
Prius: 10,000 miles * $3.5/1gal * 1gal/45 miles = $777.78
Leaf: 10,000 miles * $0.12/1kWh * 1kWh/4.9 miles = $244.90

Cost to drive 10,000 miles (Germany):
Prius: 10,000 miles * $8/1gal * 1gal/45 miles = $1777.78
Leaf: 10,000 miles * $.35/1kWh * 1kWh/4.9 miles = $714.29
(These are using your numbers fyi.)

I don't know about you but a savings of $532 (US) or $1063 (Germany) seems really good to me. Even more savings if your ICE vehicle gets less than 45 mpg.

I've been in one situation in the last year and a half where I couldn't get somewhere because I was low on charge - I could still get home though. In this case? I just went the next day. Not a big deal. 80-100 miles of range is still plenty far for 99.99% of everything I do and the savings are well worth not doing that 0.01% of things in the rare case they happen.

RE: why?
By Dr of crap on 9/12/2013 12:53:10 PM , Rating: 2
BUT - after a time batteries charge doesn't last as long as it did new. My cell phone for example, after one year I can see the difference that it will run out of power quicker than it did new.
So since we have such a SMALL market penetration with EVs we don't have a good grasp of this problem yet. AND you know it will, even of the Prius group will deny it.

So now there is the cost of getting a new battery pack and those things are way more than one years worth of gas. So where is the break even point again??

RE: why?
By Reflex on 9/12/2013 6:48:25 PM , Rating: 2
By default most EV's operate in a 20/80 mode where they discharge down to 20% and charge to 80% in order to avoid losing battery capacity. The Tesla, for example, has a 'extended range mode' that will let you get the full 300 miles advertised when you are on trips by avoiding the usual charge/discharge rules. 95% of a typical person's driving does not need the extended range, even on shorter range vehicles like the Leaf, and as such the batteries will last a *very* long time.

You say Prius owners are in denial, my point is that Toyota has addressed this issue specifically with a technical solution. Furthermore, if you are really worried about it, put half the money you are saving by skipping the price of gas into savings and by the time your battery is potentially not able to perform up to par you will have more than enough cash to flat out replace it.

Also, over time ICE engines lose efficiency as well. Might want to factor that in. They also have much higher maintenance costs, far more frequent service intervals, etc etc.

RE: why?
By jamescox on 9/15/2013 2:54:57 AM , Rating: 2

I am not sure how replaceable the batteries in an EV will be. Like a laptop, you will need a battery pack specifically made for your car. As EVs take over, the price of batteries should fall due to higher volume of production, but you would still be dependent on some company making those new batteries into a battery pack compatible with your car. The price of commonly used battery cells should come down with higher volume, but this doesn't mean that there will be a cheap, higher capacity battery pack available for an EV you buy now.

The remaining issues for EVs are range and speed of charge, but with so much research going into this, I agree that these are probably not going to remain problems for long. Once these issues are solved, people will be able to switch quickly. It took quite a long time for there to be gasoline stations everywhere and for roads to be of sufficient quality for autos. EVs do not have these issues. Before gasoline/diesel engines could take over, a lot of infrastructure needed to be built.

EVs do not require anywhere near the same level of infrastructure investment since we already have sufficient electricity capacity almost everywhere. Electric motors are better in almost every way, they have just always been held back by the energy storage mechanism. ICEs will get pushed to the margins quickly; small town America will probably hold onto their gasoline and diesel vehicles for a while though.

I am not sure that auto companies staying away from EVs will be left that far behind though. It may be that those not investing in EVs will essentially be able to buy electric tech and/or components from other companies and avoid developing it themselves. I have noticed several non-auto companies getting into the EV battery, controller, and/or motor business. I am not sure how this compares with that produced by the current auto makers. Staying away from producing EVs now also avoids the not-quite-there-yet problems. They may have marketing issues later if they are not known for electric vehicles though.

RE: why?
By lelias2k on 9/12/2013 9:24:18 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, that's what they said about regular cars when then started replacing horse carriages.

That's what they said about PCs in the 70s.

That's what they said about... huh... every new piece of technology that changes paradigms.


RE: why?
By toffty on 9/12/2013 11:24:54 AM , Rating: 2
What utility? I have an EV and it's met all my needs. Sure I'm in a 2 car family but the amount that I've needed the ICE is few and far between. When I get my next car - it will be an EV in the 2016 time frame i'm thinking - we'll be getting rid of the ICE vehicle all together.

The EV driving experience is so much better than any ICE that I've ever driven I will never be buying an ICE again.

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