Despite largely disappointing sales, many different manufacturers has plans to join the pure electric and range-extended electric vehicle market. Mostly these efforts are aimed at city-dwellers, models such as the upcoming Honda Fit EV and Chevrolet Spark EV. The thinking is that these small, subcompact models with around 80-100 miles of pure electric range range are ideal for a second (or even first car) for some in these settings.
We’ll see if that strategy works. Only Tesla is pursuing offering a truly road-trip capable electric with the Model S. That car goes on sale this year. Despite its large research and development budget, Volkswagen has been behind the curve in offering hybrids, plug-ins and electric vehicles. Last year, the Volkswagen Toureg was the brand’s first hybrid.
VW has been talking about an all-electric Golf-based model for 2014. Now, VW has confirmed that its debut has been pushed up to late next year. The new Golf EV will be VW’s first electric production vehicle. As far as plug-in hybrid similar to the Chevrolet Volt, that is a bit farther out, slated for 2015.
Volkswagen’s ambition is to be the world’s largest automaker. Following that strategy, it is really focusing its efforts on where the majority of the sales are, which is probably why they have been slow to get on board with this technology.
Instead, VW has been a big proponent of its clean diesel TDI models. Jonathan Browning said VW will focus on offering variety going forward – natural gas, electric and hybrid powertrains in addition to diesels. By 2018, VW expects pure electric, hybrid and range-extended electric vehicles to account for just 3 percent of its overall sales.
Over the past few years, internal combustion engines have steadily been increasing in efficiency. Unlike some who have proclaimed its death, the ICE will be with us a good while longer. Still, it is good to see VW working on diversifying its portfolio. Choice is the best thing for everyone.