The German government is aiming to have a million electric vehicles on its roads by 2020 – something that can be achieved if partly battery-powered units like hybrids are taken into account, according to Volkswagen Group chief executive Martin Winterkorn. He assured that the carmaker would make its contribution toward this goal.
Winterkorn said that plug-in hybrids – which could shift running power from between a battery power and a conventional engine -- "offer the biggest market potential," and should help with a rollout of electric mobility on a larger scale. VW Group’s CEO said the carmaker still plans to offer up to 40 electric or hybrid models in case the demand for low-emission vehicles soars.
The carmaker plans to build 14 vehicles with alternative drivetrains through 2014 after introducing electric versions of the Golf hatchback and Up minicar at the Frankfurt auto show in September. The carmaker also exhibited new plug-in hybrid versions of the Porsche Panamera coupe and the Audi A3 compact.
VW’s actions are similar to moves by other carmakers like Nissan and General Motors to promote purely electric and hybrid cars, allowing them to comply with the more stringent fleet-wide emission regulations around the world. Demand for such vehicles, however, remained low due to consumer concerns over their ranges and their high prices.
Purely or partly battery-powered vehicles only accounted for 4,157 new-car registrations in Germany in 2012, according to the VDA auto-industry association. On the other hand, carmakers sell around 3 million new vehicles in Germany annually. This month, VW commenced selling in Germany its e-Up unit for EUR26,900 ($37,000). The VW e-Up is targeted against up and coming BMW’s i3, according to Rudolf Krebs, the carmaker’s head of electric-powertrain technology.